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United States v. Kaplan

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division

December 9, 2014



JON STUART SCOLES, Magistrate Judge.

On the 8th day of December 2014, this matter came on for hearing on the Government's request to have the Defendant detained prior to trial. The Government was represented by Assistant United States Attorney Steven K. Young. The Defendant appeared personally and was represented by his attorney, John D. Jacobsen.


On December 2, 2014, Defendant Dennis Lee Kaplan was charged by Indictment (docket number 2) with possession of a firearm by a felon. At the arraignment on December 4, 2014, Defendant entered a plea of not guilty and trial was scheduled before Chief Judge Linda R. Reade on February 2, 2014.

Detective Mark Phippen of the Benton County Sheriff's Office testified regarding the circumstances underlying the instant charge. On August 21, 2014, law enforcement officers responded to Defendant's home after receiving a 911 call from Defendant's live-in girlfriend, Nicole Hackett. Hackett reported that during an argument, Defendant had gone to his mother's house, retrieved a shotgun, and came back to their trailer. After threatening Hackett, Defendant shot the shotgun out the open sliding door. Hackett was interviewed at the scene by Deputy Tippett of the Sheriff's office and repeated the story. Eighteen days later, on September 8, 2014, Hackett provided a written victim impact statement which provided more detail. According to Phippen, Hackett wrote seven times that she was "scared" during the incident. Hackett also described an incident the prior evening, when Defendant was upset and brought a cattle prod into the trailer and made it "crack."

Defendant was also interviewed at the scene and admitted there was a gun, but told officers that he had put it away in the gun cabinet at his mother house. After Defendant was told that he was being arrested for possession of a firearm as a felon, Defendant said "there's BB guns in that cabinet also." A search of the gun cabinet at Defendant's mother's house next door revealed a 20 gauge Mossberg shotgun, together with two other long guns, a handgun, and some pellet guns. Detective Phippen testified that he was told by Defendant's nephew that Defendant admitted he had "screwed up" and fired a weapon.

After Defendant was released from state custody, he was committed by his mother to the psychiatric unit at St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids, where he remained for eight days. Defendant's mother reported that the doctors changed his medication and she has noticed "a change for the better" in Defendant's demeanor. Following his release from the hospital, and after Hackett had the state protective order cancelled, Hackett recanted her prior statements to police and claimed that the gun shot by Defendant was a BB gun.

Defendant is 41 years old. He has lived in Shellsberg his entire life. Prior to this incident, he was living in a trailer on his mother's property with his girlfriend, their 6-year-old son, and his girlfriend's 9-year-old son from a prior relationship. Defendant has been previously married twice and has a 14-year-old son from his second marriage. Defendant has been employed for the past month as a truck driver, and his employer confirmed that he could return to his employment if released.

Defendant told the pretrial services officer that he was diagnosed as bipolar in 2013, and has been treated by a psychiatrist at the Abbe Center every three months. As previously noted, Defendant was committed to the psychiatric unit for eight days following this incident.

Defendant told the pretrial services officer that his alcohol consumption has never been problematic. He admitted using cocaine and methamphetamine on a daily basis between 2000 and 2002, but stated that he stopped using cocaine in 2002 and stopped using methamphetamine in 2003. He admitted trying marijuana in 2013 but "did not like it."

Defendant's criminal record dates back to 2002 when, at age 28, Defendant was charged with two counts of forgery in Linn County and one count of forgery in Benton County, together with seven counts of theft in the fifth degree in Benton County. While the charges were pending, Defendant was also charged, and later convicted, of theft in the second degree, interference with official acts bodily injury, and criminal mischief in the fifth degree. Defendant initially received deferred judgments on the forgery charges, but following a violation of his probation his deferred judgments were taken away and Defendant received a five-year suspended prison term on each count and was ordered to reside at a residential facility for one year.

While on probation, Defendant was charged with possession of a controlled substance as a precursor in Johnson County. He received a suspended prison term and was required to reside at a residential facility. Defendant was subsequently charged with voluntary absence and his probation was revoked in Linn County, Benton County, and Johnson County. Defendant was sent to prison on April 29, 2004 and paroled on July 1, 2005. His parole was revoked in December 2005, however, and he received an additional five-year prison term for escape of a felon in Benton County. He was paroled again on January 4, 2008 and discharged from parole on November 5, 2008.

On January 31, 2009, Defendant was charged in state court with 12 counts of purchasing more than 7, 500 mg of pseudoephedrine. He was sentenced to pay a fine on one count in October 2010, with the remaining 11 counts dismissed. On August 21, 2014, Defendant was charged in state court for the incident ...

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