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United States v. Luton

United States District Court, D. Colorado

May 28, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
LEONARD LUTON, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR REVOCATION OF DETENTION ORDER

          CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Leonard Luton's Motion for Revocation of Detention Order (Doc. # 36). The Court has reviewed the relevant pleadings, applicable law, and pertinent record. For the following reasons, Mr. Luton's Motion is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This criminal action arises from an indictment filed on March 6, 2019 (Doc. # 20), charging Mr. Luton with five counts of fraud and conducting a scheme or device to defraud under false pretenses pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341 and 1342. A five-day jury trial is set to commence on August 19, 2019. (Doc. # 33.)

         Based on the indictment, the nature of this case is that Mr. Luton and his associates allegedly "devised and intended to devise, and participated in a scheme and artifice to defraud victim S.O., by obtaining property, to wit, approximately $900, 000 in United States currency, by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises relating to a lottery scheme and artifice to defraud[.]" (Doc. # 20 at 1.) Mr. Luton and his associates allegedly told S.O., an 80-year-old woman, that she had "won a lottery and needed to make certain payments in order to collect the winnings" and those "payments were routed through others to" Mr. Luton and his associates. (Id.)

         On March 7, 2019, Mr. Luton was arraigned and attended a discovery hearing with Magistrate Judge Hegarty. (Doc. # 23.) On that day, Mr. Luton waived his right to a detention hearing with Magistrate Judge Crews and was remanded into custody because Mr. Luton "was on Writ from Larimer County for state charges stemming from the conduct in the instant case." (Doc. # 26 at 3.) While Mr. Luton was granted bond in the Larimer County case, he was unable to afford the bond amount of $450, 000. (Id.) Therefore, if Magistrate Judge Crews released Mr. Luton, it would have been into the custody of Larimer County, and Mr. Luton would not have received any time-served for a possible federal sentence. (Id.)

         On May 14, 2019, the Larimer County case was dismissed against Mr. Luton. (Doc. # 26-1.) Mr. Luton then requested that the Court reopen Mr. Luton's detention hearing (Doc. # 26), and, on March 18, 2019, Magistrate Judge Crews granted that motion (Doc. # 28). On March 20, 2019, the United States of America submitted a memorandum in support of Mr. Luton's pretrial detention. (Doc. # 29.) On March 21, 2019, Magistrate Judge Crews held a hearing on Mr. Luton's Motion to Reopen Detention Hearing. (Doc. # 30.) At the hearing, Magistrate Judge Crews concluded that, based on the evidence, the Government proved by a preponderance of the evidence that "there are no or is no condition or combination of conditions that the Court can impose to reasonably assure Mr. Luton's appearance, as required, and, therefore," he ordered that Mr. Luton be detained pending trial. (Doc. # 36-1 at 31.)

         On that same day, Magistrate Judge Crews issued a written Order of Detention Pending Trial pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(2). (Doc. # 31.) His reasons for detention included:

• Weight of the evidence against the defendant is strong
• Subject to lengthy period of incarceration if convicted
• Lack of stable employment
• Lack of stable residence in this district
• Lack of financially responsible sureties
• Lack of significant community or family ties to this district
• Significant family or other ties outside the United States
• Use of alias(es) or false documents

(Id.)

         On April 26, 2019, Mr. Luton moved this Court for an Order revoking his detention order. (Doc. # 36.) On May 21, 2019, the Court held a hearing on Mr. Luton's Motion for Revocation of Detention Order (Doc. # 39.) At that hearing, the Court heard argument from counsel for the Government and Mr. Luton and, although the Court gave both parties an opportunity to submit new evidence into the record, neither party submitted any testimony or exhibits. Based on the Court's review of the previous record, pleadings, applicable law, and argument heard at the May 21, 2019 hearing, Mr. Luton's Motion is denied.

         II. RELEVANT LAW

         The Court's review of the magistrate judge's order of detention is de novo. See United States v. Cisneros, 328 F.3d 610, 616 n.1 (10th Cir. 2003). Under this standard of review, the Court must judge the issue anew, but in so doing, the Court may utilize the factual and evidentiary record developed during the detention hearing before Magistrate Judge Crews. Id. The Court, however, must reach its own findings of fact and conclusions of law. See United States v. Leon, 766 F.2d 77, 80 (2d Cir. 1985) (finding that on de novo review, a district court "should not simply defer to the judgment of the magistrate, but reach its own independent conclusion").

         Under the Bail Reform Act, a defendant may be detained pending trial only if a judicial officer finds "that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of any other person and the community." 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e); id. § 3142(b), (c). The Government has the burden of proof. Cisneros, 328 F.3d at 616. "It must prove risk of flight by a preponderance of the evidence and it must prove dangerousness to any other person or to the community by clear and convincing evidence." Id. (citations omitted). "A detention order must include 'written findings of fact and a written statement of the reasons for the detention,' but a reviewing district court can state its reasons for detention 'in writing, or orally on the record[.]'" United States v. Mobley, 720 Fed.Appx. 441, 444 (10th Cir. 2017) (quoting 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g)) (internal citations omitted).

         "Under § 3142(g), the judicial officer must consider four factors as part of the evaluation!.]" Id. 18 ...


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