7th Circuit orders resentencing on drug conviction after finding no speedy trial violation

A Bloomington man convicted of a drug charge after his attempt to rob a purported drug stash house will be resentenced on that charge after the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the government didn’t prove the drug quantity it attributed to him.

Andre Patterson and Dennis English, who belonged to a “robbery crew” in Bloomington that targeted drug stash houses, met with a confidential information and undercover agent. The law enforcement attempted to stage a robbery of a nonexistent drug house in order to catch members of the robbery crew.

During that meeting, the agent implied that the house may have as many as 20 “bricks,” or kilograms, of cocaine in it. Patterson said during the meeting he didn’t care about the drugs, only about the money.

On the date of the robbery, police stopped the car Patterson was traveling in and found a loaded 9mm gun with his fingerprints on it. Patterson was indicted in January 2012, but the trial was pushed back multiple times due to motions filed by his codefendants and questions about Patterson’s competency. He initially was found incompetent, but later deemed able to stand trial in November 2014. During this time, Patterson filed motions to dismiss under the Sixth Amendment and Speedy Trial Act, but the trial court found no violations.

 He was later convicted in September 2015 of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He received the sentencing guideline minimum of 168 months in prison.

The 7th Circuit affirmed Tuesday that there was no violation of the Speedy Trial Act or the Sixth Amendment. The time spent waiting to evaluate Patterson and restore his competency are excluded under the 70-day window of the Speedy Trial Act. Patterson also agreed to a delay created by a motion by a codefendant, Northern District of Illinois Judge Sharon Coleman, sitting by designation, wrote.

The judge also noted that Patterson didn’t assert his right to a speedy trial until after his competency hearing, and after a majority of the delays that Patterson challenges had occurred. She pointed out that “although the pretrial delay in this case was lengthy, it was primarily caused by factors outside of the government’s control.”

The 7th Circuit did vacate his sentence on the drug conviction and order Patterson resentenced because the district court’s calculation of the drug quantity was flawed. It appears the quantity is based on the conversation among Patterson, English, the undercover agent and the confidential informant about how many bricks might be in the stash house. The sentencing court did not make an express finding of drug quantity or explain the reasoning behind the quantity at the sentencing hearing, Coleman wrote. The presentence investigation report also did not set forth a specific drug quantity attributable to Patterson.

The case is United States of America v. Andre Patterson, 16-2119.

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