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United States v. Johnson

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

June 8, 2017




         Pending before the Court are Motions to Sever filed by Defendants Marquis Brandon (Doc. 168), Reginald Johnson, III, (Doc. No. 169), Santez Bradford (Doc. No. 172), Aweis Haji-Mohamed (Doc. No. 210), and an Amended Motion to Sever filed by Defendant Charles Braden (Doc. No. 159). The Government has responded in opposition to all of the Motions (Doc. Nos. 191, 278). For the reasons that follow, the Court will sever the counts in which Johnson and Bradford are named as the sole Defendants in the Second Superseding Indictment and try those counts separately.

         I. Factual Background

         On June 27, 2016, a federal grand jury returned the Second Superseding Indictment containing thirty-one counts naming six defendants. Thereafter, Defendant Keno Lane, who was named as the sole defendant in Counts Twenty-Eight through Thirty-One, pled guilty leaving twenty-seven Counts against five Defendants. Each of those Defendants has filed a Motion to Sever counts and/or defendants.

         The remaining charges involve Hobbs Act robberies, possession of firearms by unlawful drug users and/or convicted felons, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon in possession of controlled substances, the transfer of a firearm, and the possession of a stolen firearm. A central component of the Indictment is the use and possession by Defendants of seven firearms: (1) a Ruger P94, .40 caliber pistol; (2) a Beretta, Model 90Two, 9mm caliber pistol, (3) a SCCY, 9mm caliber pistol; (4) a Springfield XD, .40 caliber pistol; (5) a Glock, Model 23, .40 caliber pistol; (6) a Masterpiece Arms, Model MPA930, 9mm caliber MAC-11 style pistol; and (7) a Starfire, Model 30MI, 9mm caliber pistol. The first six of these firearms were allegedly exchanged between several of the Defendants.

         Turning to the specifics and what the Government claims it intends to prove, Counts One through Seven apparently all involved the use of the Ruger and/or Beretta in January 2015 and for six of the seven counts, specifically on January 10, 2015. Count One charges Braden, being an unlawful user of a controlled substance, with possessing that handgun in January 2015. He, along with Haji-Mohamed are charged in the next four counts for crimes committed on January 10, 2015: Count Two alleges that they conspired to rob and extort “CS, ” a person they believed to be a drug dealer; Count Three alleges they knowingly used, carried, brandished and discharged a firearm during the robbery of “CS”; Count Four alleges they conspired to rob and extort Isaiah Starks, another person they believed to be a drug dealer; and Count Five alleges that they carried, brandished and discharged a firearm in relation to the Starks' robbery on January 10, 2015.

         Braden is charged in Count Six, with the allegedly transferring the Ruger pistol, also on January 10, 2015, knowing it would be used in the Starks' robbery. Count Seven charges Haji-Mohamed with possession of the Ruger by a convicted felon on January 10, 2015, as well as possessing the Beretta pistol, which the Government suggests the proof will show was also involved in Counts Two and Three.

         Counts Eight through Twelve are leveled against Haji-Mohamed and Brandon for crimes alleged to have occurred, at least in part, on January 22, 2015. Count Eight alleges they conspired and threatened physical violence in furtherance of a plan to rob a Cricket Wireless store; Count Nine alleges they used, carried, and brandished firearms during the conspiracy to rob that store; Count Ten alleges that both, having previously been convicted of felony offenses, possessed the SCCY pistol; Count Eleven alleges that they stole the Springfield XD pistol from an employee at the Cricket store; and Count Twelve alleges those Defendants possessed, stored, and disposed of the stolen Springfield pistol between January 22, 2015 through September 11, 2015.

         Count Thirteen is another felon in possession charge. It charges Johnson, Haji-Mohamed, and Brandon with possessing the Springfield XD pistol and using it on February 9, 2015 to shoot and kill Starks and using it again toward the end of the month to regain possession of the Glock, which Johnson had previously sold to another person.

         The next two Counts involve the Masterpiece Arms pistol and are against Bradford and Brandon. Count Fourteen charges that they stole the firearm from a fellow member of Five Deuce Hoover Crips, while Count Fifteen alleges they possessed and stored that firearm. Both counts are alleged to have occurred at some point between January 22 and January 31, 2015.

         The Masterpiece Arms and two other pistols are involved in Counts Sixteen and Seventeen. In Count Sixteen, Bradford, a convicted felon, is alleged to have possessed the Beretta, Springfield XD and Masterpiece Arms pistols between January 3 and January 31, 2015, while Count Seventeen charges Brandon, who is also a convicted felon, with possessing the Beretta and Masterpiece Arms pistols during the same time period.

         The next two counts involve crimes that occurred between February 15 and 18, 2015, that name Bradford, and involved the Glock. Bradford allegedly possessed and used that gun to intimidate and threaten “JH” (Count Eighteen), while knowing that it had been stolen (Count Nineteen).

         Counts Twenty through Twenty-Two are also directed solely at Bradford and involve crimes committed on February 19, 2015. On that date, he is alleged to have unlawfully possessed the SCCY pistol (Count Twenty), to have possessed with intent to distribute cocaine (Count Twenty-One), and to have possessed a firearm while distributing the cocaine (Count Twenty-Two).

         Counts Twenty-Four and Twenty-Five are also gun and drug trafficking charges. Count Twenty-Four charges Johnson with knowingly possessing with intent to distribute a Schedule I controlled substance analogue within 1, 000 feet of a public housing complex on May 14, 2015, while the next count ...

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