United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
L. Howell, United States Magistrate Judge
CAUSE coming on to be heard before the undersigned pursuant
to a Violation Report (#14) filed by the United States
Probation Office alleging that Defendant had violated terms
and conditions of his pretrial release. At the call of this
matter on for hearing, it appeared that Defendant was present
with his counsel, Paul Lewis Bidwell, and the Government was
present through AUSA Donald Gast. From the evidence offered
and from the statements of the Assistant United States
Attorney and the attorney for the Defendant, and the records
in this cause, the Court makes the following findings.
call of this matter, Defendant, by and through his attorney,
denied the allegations contained in the Violation Report.
Testimony was then presented by the Government through Robert
T. Ferguson, United States Probation Officer for the Western
District of North Carolina.
Defendant was charged in a bill of indictment (#3) with three
counts of making false statements, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1001 and in count four, Defendant was charged with
committing mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341,
and in count five Defendant was charged with aggravated
identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A. A
hearing was held in regard to the detention of the Defendant
on December 12, 2016 and on that date the undersigned entered
an order releasing Defendant on a $25, 000 unsecured bond.
The undersigned further set conditions of release which
included the following:
(8)(g) Defendant shall surrender any passport to the Office
of Probation and Pretrial Services.
(8)(a) Defendant must report to the Office of Probation and
Pretrial Services to the extent and in the manner that the
agency determines to be appropriate.
Ferguson testified that Defendant had failed to surrender his
passport to the Office of Probation and Pretrial Services,
despite repeated directives made to Defendant that he should
surrender his passport to the United States Probation Office.
Defendant's arrest had initially been made on December 7,
2016 when he returned to the United States from a visit to
Australia. In an initial appearance hearing in the Central
District of California, which took place on December 7, 2016,
Defendant was released on terms and conditions of release
which required that he surrender his passport to the
probation office. Defendant was then allowed to travel to the
state of North Carolina for his further appearance in this
district. It was Defendant's contention that his passport
was not in his possession after it had been seized from him
at the time of his arrest in the Central District of
California. Officer Ferguson testified that Defendant's
passport was returned to a member of his family, that being
his twelve year old daughter at the time Defendant was
arrested in California. Despite repeated request from the
Probation Office for the Western District of North Carolina,
Defendant did not surrender his passport and denied
courtesy supervision in the state of South Carolina,
Defendant was instructed by his U.S. Probation Officer to
call the probation office every Monday between 8:00 a.m. and
12:00 p.m. Defendant did not contact the probation on
December 26, 2016 or January 2, 2017. Those two dates were
federal holidays, however, Defendant did not contact or leave
a message on either of those occasions and further did not
contact the probation office on January 9, 2017 or January
17, 2017. On January 18, 2017, Defendant appeared at the
office of his probation officer in Columbia, SC. At that
time, Defendant was served with a Violation Report and was
taken into custody. On January 19, 2017, Defendant's
father delivered to the U.S. Probation Officer
Defendant's passport. A review of the Pretrial Services
Report prepared by the Central District of California shows
that Defendant had a valid passport which was seized by
agents during his arrest in December of 2016. The passport
indicated that Defendant had traveled in Thailand, New
Zealand, Philippines, Mexico, Bahamas, and Australia.
Defendant is married and his wife resides in Australia and he
visits with her every three to six months. The financial
statement of Defendant shows he has $594, 000.00 in assets
and no indebtedness. $500, 000.00 of that sum is on deposit
in Wells Fargo Bank checking account.
U.S.C. § 3148(b)(1) provides as follows: The judicial
officer shall enter an order of revocation and detention if,
after a hearing, the judicial officer -----
(1) finds that there is----
(A) probable cause to believe that the person has committed a
Federal, State, or local ...