In a rather peculiar turn of events, a defendant who pleaded guilty to distributing methamphetamine and illegal possession of a firearm in New Orleans federal court had his charges dropped on Thursday (Feb. 9).
Ryan Binner, who was represented by a federal public defender after his previous defense lawyer pleaded guilty to not paying nearly $1 million in federal income tax (man, I wish I made that kind of money), was released from the St. Tammany Parish Jail and is now “ecstatic to be home with his family”, according to his current lawyer. I'll bet he is.
Apparently, Mr. Binner had the very-bad-then-very-good fortune of selling meth to members of a task force led by Special Agent Chad Scott of the Drug Enforcement Administration. SA Scott, who is based out of Tangipahoa Parish, has been suspended from his position with the DEA while the government undertakes a “massive” review of the task force's cases. At least two former Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office deputies are now facing federal charges as a result of the probe.
Several things to take away from this. First, it underscores the point that there are bad cops out there. If any pro-law enforcement person actually reads this, they'll probably think to themselves “well he's against police” or “they perform courageously against violent thugs.” Look, I don't have anything against police per se.
I know it's a dangerous job (albeit one that they signed up for voluntarily). And I believe that a pretty significant majority of police officers are good people. Hell, my cousin is a cop. But if you really think that there aren't any bad cops out there, you're sticking your head in the sand. New Orleans and the rest of southeast Louisiana have a TERRIBLE record when it comes to police corruption. I mean, we once had an NOPD officer running a drug-protection racket and a “death squad.” He himself received a death sentence for directing a major drug dealer to kill a woman who made a complaint to Internal Affairs about his brutality. It don't get ANY worse than that. And before my law enforcement-loving-lemmings tell me “oh, you can't judge the conduct of the majority by the conduct of a few,” keep in mind that I'm a lawyer. That is something I live with every day.
Second, it seems to me that the evidence that SA Scott's task force obtained must have been totally compromised. Now, I am not privy to the details of the evidence in Mr. Binner's case. I did, however, take the liberty of perusing PACER for any details that I could find. The only thing that the government says in their motion to dismiss is that it cannot proceed “in the interests of justice.” Very vague indeed. The article I cited implies that there will be more cases coming to light that this task force screwed up.
Finally, I cannot stress how rare this situation actually is. I've known all along that the government could potentially file a Rule 48 motion to dismiss AFTER a plea or a guilty verdict. I've just never actually seen it happen before. I guess that's why Harry Rosenberg (former United States Attorney in New Orleans) referred to the situation as
a “rarity of rarities.” I wonder if Mr. Binner's lawyer knew that the government was going to file the motion. I would assume so, but can you imagine not knowing and seeing that email in your inbox? There must have been some serious corruption or unethical conduct going on (see points 1 and 2 above).
New Orleans criminal defense lawyer Alex K. Kriksciun is available to represent clients facing criminal charges in the Eastern District of Louisiana. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, give the office a call today!