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United States v. Ansah

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

February 9, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
KINGSTON ANSAH, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM S. DIJFFEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Kingston Ansah's (“Defendant”) Motion to Revoke Magistrate's Order Detaining Defendant [27], which the Court considers as Defendant's appeal of Magistrate Judge Janet F. King's November 29, 2017, Order of Detention Pending Trial [11].

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On November 7, 2017, Defendant was charged with one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349, ten counts of wire fraud, in violation on 18 U.S.C. §§ 1343, 1349 and 2, ten counts of access device fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(2) and 2, ten counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1) and (2), and five counts of money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 9957 and 2. (Indictment [1]). The charges arise from an alleged scheme to use credit cards obtained by using the means of identification of third party victims, to make fraudulent purchases and submit claims for fraudulent charges on the credit cards obtained using identification of third party victims. Many of the fraudulent charges were for services purportedly rendered by two of Defendant's companies. ([1] at 5). After these charges were returned, investigative activity made Defendant aware he was under investigation and he retained counsel who discussed with the Government the possible resolution of Defendant's alleged conduct. When these discussions were unsuccessful, Defendant was indicted. Defendant's counsel was notified of the indictment and Defendant was given an opportunity to self-surrender. Defendant's counsel advised the Government that Defendant became ill around the time of the original surrender date, and the Government extended the surrender date to November 20, 2017.

         Sometime before November 20, 2017, the Government learned that Defendant bought an airline ticket for travel to the Netherlands with a departure date of November 19, 2017, the day before he was to self-surrender. Before Defendant could leave the country, he was arrested. The arrest was made while Defendant was sitting at the gate for his flight to the Netherlands. The Government later learned that Defendant had a ticket on a flight from the Netherlands to his home country of Ghana.

         Defendant had checked three large pieces of luggage for his trip out of the United States. These bags were later searched. In them, agents found an international driver's license in the name of Peter Weems with a home address used on other fraudulent licenses. The Weems driver's license had the same address used on four fraudulent driver's licenses found during a previous search of Defendant's business.[1] A letter seized from the luggage had another person's name with Defendant's home address. The luggage also contained 20 pieces of dry cleaned clothing and eight pairs of shoes.

         Defendant denied he was fleeing the United States, but instead asserted he was going to Ghana to attend his mother's funeral. He claimed he was able to check three free bags on his international flight and that he packed them with things he was taking to others in Ghana. Defendant's brother provided a declaration that their mother had died and, as the eldest son, Defendant was needed to attend to her burial. A letter certification of his mother's death also was admitted. Defendant did not state why he did not tell the Government he would not self-surrender on November 20, 2017.

         The Magistrate Judge granted the Government's Motion to Detain Defendant on the grounds that he is a flight risk and safety risk. Defendant objects to, and effectively appeals, the Magistrate Judge's Order of Detention, and moves for a de novo hearing.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         Under 18 U.S.C. § 3145(b), a person ordered detained by a magistrate judge may seek prompt review of the detention order in district court. The district court's review is de novo. See United States v. Jeffries, 679 F.Supp. 1114, 1115 (M.D. Ga. 1988) (citing United States v. Gaviria, 828 F.2d 667, 670 (11th Cir. 1987)). In conducting the review, the district court may rely entirely on the pleadings and the evidence developed at the magistrate judge's detention hearing, or it may conclude that additional evidence is necessary and conduct its own evidentiary hearing. United States v. King, 849 F.2d 485, 490 (11th Cir. 1988).

         The Bail Reform Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3142, governs the release and detention of defendants awaiting trial. The government bears the burden of establishing that the defendant should be detained, either by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant poses a high risk of flight, or by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant constitutes a danger to certain individuals and to the community. United States v. Quartermaine, 913 F.2d 910, 917 (11th Cir. 1990). Section 3142(g) provides the following factors that a court shall consider in determining whether a person poses a flight risk or a danger to the community:

(1) the nature and circumstances of the offense charged, including whether the offense is a crime of violence . . . [or ...

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