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United States v. Kalb

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

May 8, 2014

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Marlene Kalb, Defendant - Appellant

Submitted March 12, 2014

Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas - Little Rock.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Michael S. Gordon, Cameron Charles McCree, Benecia Betton Moore, Julie Peters, U.S. Attorney's Office, Little Rock, AR.

For Marlene Kalb, Defendant - Appellant: John Wesley Hall Jr., John Wesley Hall, Jr., P.C., Little Rock, AR.

Marlene Kalb, Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Lexington, KY.

Before WOLLMAN, MURPHY, and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 1002

MURPHY, Circuit Judge

Marlene Kalb, a lieutenant in the Helena-West Helena, Arkansas police department, was convicted by a jury of two counts of attempted extortion under color of official right, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a), and two counts of attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. The district court[1] sentenced Kalb to a total of 30 months imprisonment and three years supervised release. She appeals on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to support her convictions. We affirm.

The government presented the following evidence through testimony and audio recordings at Kalb's trial. As part of a joint

Page 1003

federal and state investigation into police corruption known as Operation Delta Blues, a drug trafficker from Helena-West Helena known as " CC" was recruited to help carry out stings against official targets. CC went to the Helena-West Helena police department on September 1, 2011 to talk with an officer he intended to pay to provide him with a police escort while he transported illegal drugs through town. Corrupt officers in Helena-West Helena had been providing drug traffickers like CC with police escorts to protect them from being stopped by either legitimate law enforcement officers or other corrupt officers who would seize the drugs to sell or use themselves.

When he checked in at the front desk, CC was told he had an outstanding warrant for a suspended license. Worried that an arrest would alert local police to his cooperation with the FBI, he discarded the wire he was wearing in a bathroom where it was picked up by a state trooper working for the Bureau. CC saw Marlene Kalb, a close family friend who attended Sunday dinners at his mother's house, as he left the bathroom. Kalb knew about CC's drug dealing and had once arrested him for possession of marijuana. CC asked Kalb to get rid of the warrant, and she agreed, following CC to the parking lot so he could pay her. At some point, CC called an FBI agent and left the line open so the agent could listen in on his conversation with Kalb. When they arrived in the parking lot, CC gave Kalb the $500 he had received to give to a targeted officer. Although she warned CC about surveillance cameras covering the parking lot, Kalb took the money. She then escorted CC to his mother's house so that other police officers would not stop him and execute the warrant. Later on, while in an agent's presence, CC called Kalb to thank her for taking the money and letting him out of the warrant.

A week later, on September 9, CC called Kalb and asked her to " trail him out." By that he meant that she should follow him in her police car as he drove drugs across town so he would not stopped by other officers. CC informed her he would be " loaded down," which he testified was code for carrying drugs. He explained he did not want to get harassed by police officers while he drove through town because the people supplying him with drugs " pay me too much money." Kalb said she would help him. On that day CC drove from Mississippi across the bridge over the Mississippi River to the Arkansas side where Kalb was waiting in uniform for him in her marked police car. Kalb followed CC as he drove about ten miles through Helena-West Helena to a gas station on the western edge of town. There, CC again wearing a wire, ...


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