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State v. Hoover

Superior Court of Maine, Kennebec, Somerset

August 4, 2014




Before the Court is Defendant Wade Hoover's Motion to Dismiss Indictments charging him with 12 counts of Gross Sexual Assault (Kennebec) and 1 count of Gross Sexual Assault (Somerset). The Defendant is represented on the Somerset County matter by Attorney Peter Barnett, and on the Kennebec matters by Attorney William Bagdoyan. Deputy District Attorney Fern Larochelle represents the State.

The Defendant claims that these State charges must dismissed as they violate his right to be free from double jeopardy under the United States and Maine Constitutions. The Defendant stands convicted of federal charges of production of child pornography and possession of child pornography. While acknowledging the long-standing principle that "if two different sovereigns prosecute an individual for the same act or same criminal conduct, the Double Jeopardy Clauses of both the United States and Maine Constitutions, do not apply, " Defendant relies upon a limited and narrow exception to the dual sovereign rule articulated in Bartkus v. Illinois, 359 U.S. 121 (1959) and U.S. v. Guzman, 85 F.3d 823 (1st Cir. 1996).

The Court conducted an evidentiary hearing at the request of the defense on May 28, 2014, and the parties submitted written arguments, the last of which was received by the Court on July 7, 2014. The Court has considered the evidence from the hearing including testimony and exhibits, the parties' written arguments, and issues the following order denying the motion to dismiss both indictments.

Findings and Conclusions

On October 3, 2012 agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) along with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) searched by consent computers at the offices of the National Alliance for the Mentally 111 (NAMI) in Augusta. The federal investigators had received information that an IP address assigned to NAMI was the source of child pornography videos. The Defendant, a NAMI employee, admitted during the consent search to his involvement with the pornography, and the investigators also discovered videos and photos on his computer showing what appeared to be the Defendant sexually assaulting a male child. The Defendant was taken into custody, and arraigned on State charges of Class C Possession of Sexually Explicit Materials on October 5, 2014 under Kennebec Docket No. CR-12-813. The case was set for status conference in the Superior Court for December 12, 2012 and it was based upon a probable cause affidavit signed by Detective Glen Lang of the Maine Computer Crimes Unit of the State Police dated October 5, 2012.

On that same date, federal Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk authorized an arrest warrant of the Defendant based on a federal complaint of production of child pornography. (Exh. 1). That federal warrant, however, was not executed by federal authorities until December 5, 2012, after the State dismissed its felony charge.

While in State custody, counsel was appointed, and the matter appeared on the docket for a bail review motion on November 27, 2012 which was denied. On December 3, 2012 the case was dismissed by the Kennebec County District Attorney's Office. The reason stated on the dismissal was as follows: "This case will be taken federally."

Investigation of the Defendant continued after his arrest, and it is clear from the record before the Court that federal law enforcement officers took the lead in the extensive investigation. Indeed, former ADA Brad Grant testified that it was his understanding throughout the State process that the case would be "going federal." He stated further that he could remember only one time in his sixteen years as a prosecutor in District 4 where a case in which the United States Attorneys Office was actively involved was also prosecuted by his office. Former Assistant District Attorney Patricia Poulin had a different understanding of her office's position, but the record is not clear as to whether she ever spoke with ADA Grant. She testified that it was her belief that the State Police had actually arrested the Defendant too hastily. Her memo (State's Exh. 2) reads as follows: "State police rushed an arrest before they were ready on this case." However, she also noted in her memo dated 10/9/12 that then-Deputy District Attorney Alan Kelley directed her to make sure that all prosecutors in the office understood that the Defendant should not be permitted to plead to the possession of sexually explicit materials "before all State charges are brought. D/M (dismiss) if he does."[1] Despite these concerns, the Defendant was held on the State charge of possession of sexually explicit materials until he went into federal custody on December 7, 2012, The Defendant waived federal indictment and pleaded guilty to one count of production of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography on February 5, 2013. (State's Exh. 1). He was then re-prosecuted by the State of Maine when he was indicted by the Somerset County Grand Jury on March 14, 2013 (one count of Gross Sexual Assault) and the Kennebec County Grand Jury (12 counts of Gross Sexual Assault) on May30, 2013. The original charge of possession of sexually explicit materials was not brought in either indictment.

On July 2, 2013 the Defendant was sentenced to 360 months in prison for production of child pornography and 120 months consecutive for possession of child pornography. It is clear to the Court that the Defendant's federal sentence was directly and significantly increased as a consequence of his sexual assault of the two victims. (See Federal Sentencing Transcript, pg. 24, 38-39) The Court therefore agrees with the Defense that the current State prosecution, if successful, could result in the Defendant being punished twice for the same criminal conduct.

The Defendant argues that this, among other things, supports its argument that the second prosecution at issue here, by the State of Maine, must be dismissed. However, the Defendant has conceded that it is permissible for a person to be prosecuted and punished twice for the same conduct so long as it is done by separate sovereigns, here the federal government and the State of Maine. The Defendant instead urges the Court to find that the limited Bartkus exception to the general rule allowing double punishment by separate sovereigns requires dismissal.

The Court would recognize at the outset the federalism issues presented by the facts of this case. The parties seem to agree that there is no federal crime for sexually assaulting a child, and it is highly unusual for an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agent to be the primary investigator in a State prosecution for child sexual assault.[2] However, the State argues that these joint investigations are constitutional and have been specifically approved by courts as "cooperative law enforcement efforts between independent sovereigns." U.S. v. Guzman, 85 F.3d 823 (1st Cir. 1996). The State also notes that the Maine Supreme Court has never adopted the so-called Bartkus exception to the general rule allowing dual prosecutions.

Cases which might raise concerns about federalism do not of course necessarily translate into cases of double jeopardy. While at least at the earlier stages of the investigation it may have appeared to the Defendant, as it did to ADA Grant, that the State was not going to be "taking ownership" of the case as he termed it, that is what eventually happened. The former District Attorney's Office certainly communicated with the United States Attorney's Office about the status of the State case, and it was clear to the Court from the testimony of Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Lowell that the federal authorities benefited by the State having custody of the Defendant, at least initially, while the federal authorities put their case together. That is because, as he explained, once the federal warrant, which was issued in early October of 2012, was executed, the federal speedy trial clock would start ticking. However, the Court is satisfied that as Detective Glen Lang testified, the decision to promptly arrest the Defendant arose not from a desire by State authorities to be a tool for the federal authorities, but was instead motivated by a legitimate concern for public safety.

The Court concludes that the decision to file the gross sexual assault charges, and not to bring charges involving the child pornography made by the new District Attorney in early 2013, actually undermines the defense theory that the State's prosecution of the Defendant, as currently constituted, is a "sham prosecution" under Bartkus. In addition, there is a difference between one sovereign doing more of the work and expending more of the resources, from the situation envisioned by Bartkus where one sovereign is nothing more than a tool of the other such that the subsequent prosecution becomes a "sham." As the First Circuit stated in Guzman, the exception arises only in "situations in which one sovereign so thoroughly dominates or manipulates the prosecutorial machinery of another such that the latter retains little or no volition in its own proceedings." 85 F.3d 823, 827. There is ...

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