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United States v. Norwood

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

May 18, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ALEXANDRA NORWOOD, D-1, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER OVERRULING DEFENDANT'S OBJECTIONS TO PRESENTENCE INVESTIGATION REPORT

MARK A. GOLDSMITH, District Judge.

A jury returned a verdict against Defendant Alexandra Norwood on July 22, 2014, finding him guilty of the following crimes: (i) Racketeering (RICO) Conspiracy (Count One); and (ii) Murder of Jonathan Parker in Aid of Racketeering (Count Two). The Probation Department prepared a Presentence Investigation Report ("PSIR") for sentencing, to which Norwood prepared objections. The Probation Department and the Government responded to Norwood's objections, see Gov't Resp. (Dkt. 765), [1] and Norwood filed a reply (Dkt. 766). The Court now addresses and overrules Norwood's objections.

A. OBJECTION 1

Norwood first objects to two statements contained in Paragraph 9 of the PSIR: (i) that the "Howard Boys' gang primary source of income was drug sales, " and (ii) that "[t]hey also participated in the production of songs and music CD's." With respect to the first sentence, Norwood argues that there was no evidence that "any group of individuals who may have referred to themselves as Howard Boys' shared any income. Rather, if anyone who might have been referred to as a Howard Boy' engaged in drug sales, he kept his own money." With respect to the second sentence, Norwood argues that the "evidence at trial concerning rap songs and recorded music concerned a time period after 2005 when Alexandra Norwood no longer lived in the area referred to in this paragraph."

The Court rejects these arguments. First, regarding the drug sales, there was extensive testimony at trial that members of the group sold drugs, and that they worked together both to effectuate these drug sales (i.e., by warning one another of police and rival gang member presence, by sharing drugs and customers, and by taking turns selling), and to protect an exclusive territory in which only members and associates could sell. See, e.g., X. Turner Vol. I at 93-96, 106-107, 110-112, 114; D. Scott Vol. I at 24-25; Angus Vol. II at 9; D. Scott Vol. II at 80-82; J. Wilson at 6; R. Dudley Vol. I at 6-7; B. Marshall Vol. II at 14; A. Patrick, 6/3/2014 (Rough Tr.) at 76-77. The fact that the sales proceeds may have been kept by individual member-sellers, rather than shared among the group, is irrelevant; Howard Boys members worked together to increase the individual participants' drug-sale income. Indeed, the PSIR goes on to specifically recognize that, "Each of the members sold drugs on their own, but... [s]ome had common sources for the drugs. They also fronted or sold drugs to each other." PSIR ΒΆ 10. Furthermore, Norwood does not appear to dispute the PSIR's statement that these drug sales were the primary source of income for the group's members. Therefore, the statement will remain as written.

With respect to the production of rap songs and music CDs, the Court notes that Paragraph 9 of the PSIR is an informational overview paragraph describing the activities of the group in general. This paragraph does not mention whether an individual member engaged in a particular activity; that level of detail is contained in subsequent paragraphs. Nor does the paragraph purport to attribute all of these activities to every member, or claim that every member did everything recited therein. Although there is no evidence that Norwood himself participated in the production of any CDs or music, there was evidence that other members participated in these activities in furtherance of the enterprise. See X. Turner Vol. I at 75; Ex. 73. Accordingly, the Court overrules this objection, and the statement will remain as written.

B. OBJECTION 2

Norwood next objects to the statement in Paragraph 11 of the PSIR that he was a member of the Howard Boys. While recognizing that he was found guilty at trial of the offenses listed in Counts One and Two of the indictment, Norwood argues that he left the neighborhood in January 2005, and no longer had any association with the activities described as taking place after that time.

The jury's verdict, as well as the evidence at trial (including Norwood's own statements), established that he was a member of the Howard Boys. See Angus Vol. II at 7-10; X. Turner Vol. I at 31, 42. Furthermore, although Norwood may have moved out of the immediate neighborhood in 2005, he remained near the area thereafter, and he continued to associate with members and associates. See X. Turner Vol. I at 97-98; X. Turner Vol. III at 100-102; C. Orr at 86-88.

Moreover, to the extent Norwood is arguing that he withdrew from the group after 2005, the Court has repeatedly rejected that argument, and does so again here. The Sixth Circuit explained in United States v. Robinson, 390 F.3d 853, 882 (6th Cir. 2004), that, even if a coconspirator is "no longer an active participant in the conspiracy..., he is nonetheless presumed to be a continuing member, ... so long as the conspiracy was ongoing and [the defendant] did not establish his affirmative withdrawal from the conspiracy." "Mere cessation of activity is not sufficient to establish withdrawal from a conspiracy." Id. There is no evidence that Norwood took affirmative action to defeat or disavow the purpose of the conspiracy after 2005. Furthermore, even if Norwood had withdrawn from the group in or after 2005, that is not inconsistent with the PSIR's statement that he "was a member of the Howard Boys gang, " because he would have been a member before his alleged withdrawal. Accordingly, the Court overrules this objection, and this paragraph of the PSIR will remain as written.

C. OBJECTION 3

Norwood next objects to the inclusion of Paragraphs 12 and 13, which describe drug activities from 2002. Norwood does not dispute the accuracy of these paragraphs, but claims that they refer to his own conduct, and not that of the alleged RICO enterprise.

As described above, there was extensive testimony that the Howard Boys worked together to protect an exclusive territory from which only members and associates could sell drugs. Both of the drug activities described in Paragraphs 12 and 13 occurred near the Howard Estates - the core of the group's exclusive territory. Norwood himself described to Government agents how an individual had to be from the Howard Boys to sell drugs in the area, and that people from outside groups or gangs were not allowed to sell drugs there. See Angus Vol. II at 9. Further, the events described in these paragraphs were listed as overt acts in the governing indictment. See Am. First ...


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