More than four years passed between the time a grand jury in Washington indicted a man on charges of selling crack cocaine and the moment the police found and arrested him earlier this year.
That delay violated the man's right to a speedy trial, a federal judge in Washington ruled in April in dismissing the drug case against Donald Boone. Boone was charged with two counts of unlawful distribution of more than five grams of crack.
Prosecutors had filed a notice of appeal this month in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, challenging the dismissal of the case. But last week the government voluntarily abandoned the appeal.
Roy McLeese III, chief of the appellate section for the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District, did not explain the basis for the government's decision in court papers. The five-year statute of limitations for the drug crimes has not expired. A spokesman for the USAO, Bill Miller, declined to comment.
Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said in court papers the government “negligently failed to arrest” Boone after a sealed indictment was filed in 2005 in federal district court charging him with the sale of crack.
Prosecutors said they had audio and video surveillance proving the charges and that Boone actively evaded arrest. The delay, according to the government, was caused by Boone himself and not by sloppy police work.
Around the time of the indictment, Metropolitan Police Department officers secretly watched the house in Washington where Boone was believed to be living, according to court records. Officers distributed Boone’s photo and chatted up confidential informants between 2005 and 2010.
Boone was arrested in February about a block from his grandmother’s house. Boone’s lawyer, Jonathan Jeffress, an assistant federal public defender in Washington, filed a motion to dismiss the case in March.
Jeffress said in court papers that Boone remained in the Washington area since the indictment, living at his grandmother’s house. That address was on his driver’s license, according to court records. “The defense is aware of nothing that would excuse the government’s over 4-year delay in affecting Mr. Boone’s arrest,” Jeffress said.
Kessler said the government failed to prove that Boone knew that a warrant had been issued for his arrest.
“Mere awareness that the police are looking for a person does not obligate that person to affirmatively seek out the police to find out what, if any, problem exists,” Kessler said in court papers.