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United States v. Beasley

    Brief Fact Summary. The defendant, Beasley (the “defendant”), was convicted of seven counts of obtaining Dilaudid with an intent to distribute, and two counts of attempting to obtain Dilaudid by misrepresenting the name of the person to appear on the prescription.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. The fact that other similar bad acts came after crimes charged in an indictment does not preclude their use as part of pattern to show intent.


    Facts. The defendant was convicted for attempting to obtain Dilaudid by misrepresenting the name of the person to appear on the prescription. Evidence showed that the defendant was a biochemist who claimed to be using that drug to experiment on vegetables, and that he had lied to physicians in the course of obtaining prescriptions about his relationship to persons he claimed were his assistants. The defendant argued that he was involved in an experiment whereby he would administer the drugs to vegetables on the theory that administering large doses of tranquilizers and analgesics to vegetables, would help them deal with stress better and absorb nutrients more quickly, increasing their rate of growth. However, the plaintiff, the United States Government (the “plaintiff”) believes that the drugs were sold on the black market due to the size and irregular manner of his purchases coupled with the testimony of witnesses over a ten-month period. The defendant was convicted and now appe
    als.

    Issue.

    Whether the District Judge’s admission of evidence, that the defendant had previously gone “shopping for doctors” in other states is admissible as patterns of similar acts evidence?

    Held.

    Patterns of similar acts may show intent, just as they may show identity. Intent was an issue here. The defendant testified that he bought the drugs to conduct experiments, fed the drugs to his plants, and never distributed drugs to anyone. So, although the episodes of “shopping for doctors” were relevant to show intent, they also had a potential for “unfair prejudice.”


    Discussion. The many bad acts that the defendant was accused of during trial were not similar in the sense of demonstrating a modus operandi. None of the other bad acts the defendant was charged with involved duping a physician into making drugs available for experiments. The episodes of shopping for doctors were similar to each other, but not to the crimes of which the defendant was accused. In other words, the defendant’s providing of Valium and codeine to his associates is not like the fraudulent acquisition of Dilaudid.


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