The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has found nothing wrong with the convictions or sentence of two former Indianapolis narcotics detectives brought down by their involvement in an illegal drug scheme to supplement their income as police officers.
Former Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers Robert Long and Jason Edwards were convicted during a jury trial in June 2009 and found guilty of drug possession and conspiracy to distribute, and they received 25 years and 17 years respectively. A third officer, James Davis, was also sentenced for his role in the scheme, which the FBI began investigating in early 2008.
U.S. Judge Larry McKinney presided over the trial, which was one of his final official actions on the bench before he took senior status that year. On appeal, Edwards attacked his conviction and claimed the District Court erred when it denied his motion to dismiss evidence related to a phone wiretap while Long raised multiple complaints about his sentence.
In a 15-page decision issued today in the combined case of United States of America v. Robert B. Long and Jason P. Edwards, Nos. 09-3493 and 09-3636, the 7th Circuit found those contentions were without merit and affirmed the District Court.
On the wiretap issue relating to Edwards’ conviction, the 7th Circuit determined the affidavit was more than adequate to establish necessity under the court’s deferential standard of review. It laid out in detail the efforts used to investigate both Long and Edwards at that point, and the government’s fear that the techniques already used had missed some co-conspirators. Even if the investigation had uncovered enough evidence to arrest Edwards prior to the wiretap application, that doesn’t preclude finding it necessary, the court wrote.
Noting that Long’s brief challenging his sentence is “less than clear,” the 7th Circuit also dismissed his claims that the District Court failed to follow proper procedure in calculating the guideline range for his sentence, didn’t enter necessary findings of fact to support the drug quantity enhancement, misapplied a firearm possession enhancement, and neglected to reduce Long’s sentence to account for the government’s alleged misconduct during the investigation.
Even if Judge McKinney did what Long claimed on any of the points, the appellate panel noted that Long still didn’t show plain error or that any errors impacted his sentence. On the sentencing manipulation point, Long urged the 7th Circuit not to apply precedent from U.S. v. Garcia, 79 F. 3d 74, 76 (7th Cir. 1996), because of a factual distinction and how other Circuits allow for the defense of sentencing manipulation to be used. But the 7th Circuit rejected that argument because of the larger amount of drugs in this case that was used to draw out additional co-conspirators.
This ends the litigation, unless one or both parties decide to request a rehearing or ask the Supreme Court of the United States to consider the issues.