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United States v. Heiderscheit

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division

May 28, 2015



JON STUART SCOLES, Chief Magistrate Judge.

On the 28th day of May, 2015, this matter came on for hearing on the Motion for Detention Hearing (docket number 35) filed by the Defendant on May 20, 2015.[1] The Government was represented by Assistant United States Attorney Justin Lightfoot. The Defendant appeared personally and was represented by his attorney, Alfred E. Willett.


On April 23, 2015, Defendant Benjamin Heiderscheit was charged by Indictment (docket number 3) with conspiracy to manufacture a controlled substance near a protected location (Count 1), maintaining a drug-involved premises near a protected location (Count 2), and possession of pseudoephedrine (Count 4). At the arraignment on May 5, 2015, Defendant entered a plea of not guilty and trial was scheduled before Chief Judge Linda R. Reade on July 6, 2015.

Officer Chad Leitzen of the Dubuque Police Department, who is currently assigned to the Dubuque Drug Task Force, testified regarding the circumstances underlying the instant action. On July 4, 2014, Defendant's former girlfriend went to Defendant's house to retrieve her personal property. She was accompanied by a police officer. Defendant's mother permitted the former girlfriend to enter the house, but refused entry to the officer. When the girlfriend exited the house, however, she reported seeing numerous items associated with the manufacture of methamphetamine, including a distinct odor. The officer outside the house also noticed an odor. A search warrant was obtained for the residence, and authorities found numerous items associated with the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Further investigation also revealed drug-related text messages between Defendant and Heather Avenarius (a co-Defendant in this case). Investigators also found "pseudo logs, " showing that both Defendant and Avenarius had purchased extensive amounts of pseudoephedrine. During a post- Miranda interview, Avenarius told officers that Defendant cooks methamphetamine. According to Avenarius, she provided Defendant with approximately five boxes of pseudoephedrine every month between May 2014 and January 2015.

Defendant, age 34, was born in Dubuque and has lived in the Dubuque area all of his life. Defendant is single, has never been married, and has no children. His parents live in Durango, Iowa, and his father testified that Defendant could live with them if released. Defendant has been unemployed since July 2014, but had steady employment prior to that time.

Defendant is in good physical health, but told the pretrial services officer that he has been diagnosed with anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He is not currently taking any medications. While he was in prison, however, Defendant was required to take a number of mental health medications. According to Defendant, he has used marijuana on a daily basis since age 13, and last used two days before his arrest. He has also used methamphetamine about once per month since age 18 and last used that substance approximately one month prior to his arrest. He received inpatient substance abuse treatment at age 18, and has completed two outpatient substance abuse treatment since that time.

Defendant was adjudicated delinquent as a juvenile on various charges, including assault. As an adult, he has convictions for public intoxication, operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, and eight convictions for possession of a controlled substance. (Numerous other possession charges were dismissed.) Defendant was also convicted of possession of contraband in a correctional facility, when he was found with marijuana in the Dubuque, Iowa, residential facility. In October 2003, Defendant's probation was revoked and he was sent to prison, where he served approximately 16 months. Defendant has failed to appear for court proceedings on nine separate occasions.

When a warrant was issued for Defendant's arrest in the instant action, he intentionally refused to respond to the door when he knew police officers were looking for him. Several days later, the United States Marshals Service located Defendant in a house in Dubuque. Defendant initially opened the front door, but then slammed the door shut and locked it when he discovered that it was a deputy marshal at the door. Defendant then holed himself up in the attic for approximately four hours before finally surrendering.


The release or detention of a defendant pending trial is governed by the Bail Reform Act of 1984, 18 U.S.C. § 3142. In United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739 (1987), the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Bail Reform Act of 1984, while noting that "[i]n our society liberty is the norm, and detention prior to trial or without trial is the carefully limited exception." Id. at 755.

A. Legal Standard to be Applied

If the government moves to have a defendant detained prior to trial, the court must undertake a two-step inquiry. United States v. Friedman, 837 F.2d 48, 49 (2d Cir. 1988). The Court must first determine by a preponderance of the evidence that the case involves an offense listed in 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(1), or that the defendant presents certain risk factors, as identified in § 3142(f)(2). Id. Once this determination has been made, the court then determines, pursuant to § 3142(e), whether any ...

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