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United States v. Long

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

April 1, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JOE LONG, DANIEL COPRICH, GLENN ISLAND, AHMAD WILLIAMS, and ISAIAH HICKS, Defendants-Appellants

 Argued, September 17, 2013

Page 323

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 08 CR 401 -- James B. Zagel, Judge.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee (11-3888, 12-1048, 12-1267, 12-1538, 12-2665): Sharon R. Fairley, Office of The United States Attorney, Chicago, IL.

For Joe Long, also known as: BJ, also known as: BABY JOE, Defendant - Appellant (11-3888): Yelena A. Dolgosheeva, Law Offices of Yelena A. Dolgosheeva, Buffalo Grove, IL.

For Daniel Coprich, Defendant - Appellant (12-1048): Kent R. Carlson, Carlson & Associates, Chicago, IL.

For Glenn Island, also known as: BABY DOUGH, Defendant - Appellant (12-1267): Hannah V. Garst, Law Offices of Hannah Garst, Chicago, IL.

For Ahmad Williams, Defendant - Appellant (12-1538): Michael S. Holzman, Rosen & Holzman, Waukesha, WI.

For Isaiah Hicks, Defendant - Appellant (12-2665): Nathan Diamond-Falk, Chicago, IL.

Before WILLIAMS, SYKES, and TINDER, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 324

Sykes, Circuit Judge.

The five defendants in this appeal were part of a conspiracy to distribute cocaine on the South Side of Chicago. Ahmad Williams pleaded guilty, but the other four--Joe Long, Daniel Coprich, Glenn Island, and Isaiah Hicks--went to trial and were convicted by a jury. On appeal each defendant raises a number of different challenges to his conviction and sentence. Only one has merit: Island must be resentenced under the Fair Sentencing Act, which after Dorsey v. United States, 132 S.Ct. 2321, 183 L.Ed.2d 250 (2012), applies to defendants sentenced after the Act was passed. We affirm in all other respects.

I. Background

Each defendant raises a different mix of challenges to his conviction and sentence, and none of the challenges are shared among all defendants. So we begin with a

Page 325

brief discussion of the facts common to all and elaborate on the details in our discussion of the issues raised by each individual defendant.

Isaiah Hicks led a large organization that distributed crack cocaine on the South Side of Chicago. He oversaw the acquisition, processing, and packaging of the drugs with help from Daniel Coprich, Ahmad Williams, and others. Once the processing was complete, Hicks sold the cocaine to distributors, including Joe Long and Glenn Island. On multiple occasions Hicks sold drugs to his distributors on credit.

As is common in many drug-trafficking prosecutions, much of the government's evidence at trial consisted of wiretapped phone conversations between various members of the conspiracy. The jury also heard testimony from participants in Hicks's organization, including Kevin Masuca, Hicks's former right-hand man, and Latasha Williams, Hicks's former girlfriend. Masuca described the defendants' involvement in the conspiracy; for instance, he testified that on several occasions Williams helped process and package cocaine, and that Coprich helped Hicks acquire cocaine for processing. Less favorably to the prosecution, he testified that Long and Island were only customers of the conspiracy, not members of it. Finally, the government presented Masuca's handwritten ledger, which listed the organization's drug deals over a few months in early 2008.

The jury convicted all five defendants of conspiracy with intent to distribute over 50 grams of crack cocaine, among other offenses. The judge sentenced each according to two sentencing principles that have since been overruled: First, following this court's instructions in United States v. Fisher, 635 F.3d 336, 338 (7th Cir. 2011), the judge declined to apply the Fair Sentencing Act's higher quantity thresholds for mandatory minimum sentences; and second, following the Supreme Court's holding in Harris v. United States, 536 U.S. 545, 122 S.Ct. 2406, 153 L.Ed.2d 524 (2002), he concluded that facts neither included in the indictment nor found by a jury could nonetheless trigger an increased mandatory minimum sentence. On ...


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