Criminal Charge: Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substance and Unlawful Use of a Communication Facility
Case: U.S. v. Tasmin Stewart [3:15-cr-44-D(22)][NDTX]
Result: Defendant sentenced to time served
Mr. Stewart was charged in a two-count indictment for [i] conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance [oxycodone & hydrocodone] in violation of 21 U.S.C. 846, and [ii] unlawful use of a communication facility in violation of 21 U.S.C. 843[b]. The U.S. Attorney alleged he bought pills from a man engaged in a large-scale corruption of Texas health-care facilities.
While the allegations contended only a single purchase, conspiracy law casts a broad legal net that can make even someone who had no idea about the greater scheme nonetheless guilty of conspiring to advance the scheme. The use of a telecommunication facility statute criminalizes the use of devices as common as cell phones when used during the commission of a crime.
In this case, the DOJ dropped the much more serious conspiracy count. However, the government sought the statutory maximum 48 month sentence for the remaining count phone count.
After a sentencing hearing that involved witnesses called to the stand and examined by Haslam before the federal judge, the Court sentenced Mr. Stewart to only 27 months in prison. After the hearing, however, the government advised it expected Mr. Stewart to be held for a substantial amount of time before his release. Haslam promptly challenged this position, and persuaded the Bureau of Prisons that an accurate accounting of his time credits warranted immediate release.
Mr. Stewart was released from custody to just one year of supervised probation the day after his sentencing.