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Jul 06

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Roxanne Granberry Exonerated By Insufficient Trial Evidence To Support Drug Conspiracy Conviction

Roxanne L. Granberry has had her federal conviction of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone overturned because the prosecution introduced insufficient evidence during her trial to prove her guilt. Her husband William Delonta Granberry was the mastermind of the criminal oxycodone operation she was charged with participating in.

Roxanne Granberry (Facebook)

Roxanne Granberry (Facebook)

In August 2011 Roxanne Granberry was living in Hughesville, Maryland when she legally separated from her husband. In a letter she wrote to William on August 29, 2011, Roxanne described being “sick to death of her husband engaging in illegal activity, begs him to change, compliments him on Legal accomplishments and shows her disgust of his life style – “anyone can be hustler . . . ”

At the time of the separation Roxanne was working full-time and she had two children. Roxanne and William Granberry didn’t divorce and later reconciled. However, they had separate bank accounts.

More than four years later, on December 8, 2015, a criminal complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia that alleged Roxanne was involved in helping her husband William operate an illegal oxycodone scheme from 2010 to 2015. The complaint alleged that oxycodone pills were obtained from pharmacies by a team of people using fraudulent prescriptions that William created. Buyers would purchase the pills from William or his associates for their personal use or resale.

The government alleged that upwards of 100,000 oxycodone pills were illegally obtained during the six years the scheme operated.

Roxanne, 34, was released on a Personal Recognizance bond a day after her arrest on December 8.

Along with Roxanne, her husband William and four other people were arrested on the 8th, including William’s brother Andre.

Two months later Roxanne was indicted on February 4, 2016 by a federal grand jury. Roxanne’s release of a PR bond was continued after her indictment.

Three of her co-defendants charged in December 2015 were also indicted.

William was not indicted because he negotiated a plea agreement, and on February 10, 2016 he pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone. The 37-year-old William was subsequently sentenced to 10 years in federal prison to be followed by 3 years supervised release with special conditions, forfeiture of certain property, and payment of a money judgment of $1.25 million. Another defendant also avoided indictment by agreeing to pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone: Dmitri Walls-White was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison followed by 3 years supervised release with special conditions.

Roxanne’s defense during her trial in June 2016 was she had no role in his illegal drug scheme and took steps to physically separate herself from her husband and any illegal activities he might be involved in, that included legally separating from him in August 2011.

William didn’t testify during his wife’s trial, however, a number of people involved in the drug scheme did.

On June 13, 2016 the jury convicted Roxanne of Conspiracy to Distribute Oxycodone (Count 1), but acquitted her of Obtaining Oxycodone by Fraud and Forgery (Count 2). U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Trenga allowed Roxanne to remain free on a PR bond pending her sentencing.

Following Roxanne’s conviction her remaining three co-defendants agreed to plea deals.

Roxanne’s lawyer filed a post-verdict Motion for Acquittal on June 21, 2017 that argued, “there was insufficient evidence at trial to establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Ms. Granberry committed Count I alleged in the indictment.” Roxanne’s sentencing was stayed pending the determination of her motion. On August 26, 2016 Judge Trenga denied Granberry’s Motion for Acquittal.

The same day, August 26, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a Motion for Forfeiture of the house in Hughesville, Maryland that Roxanne lived in based on a substantial connection between the property and the drug conspiracy.

Roxanne retained new lawyers — Pleasant Sanford Brodnax III and John L. McMahon — who made their appearance on September 6 and September 7, 2016.

Roxanne’s new lawyers filed a Motion For A New Trial under FRCP Rule 33 on October 24, 2016. The motion was based on alleged “new evidence,” and the “other grounds” that the evidence in her case “weighs heavily against the reliability, integrity and justness of the verdict rendered against the Defendant.”

Roxanne’s sentencing was continued pending resolution of her new trial motion, that the government vigorously opposed.

On February 24, 2017 Judge Trenga denied Roxanne’s motion for a new trial based on new evidence, ruling she didn’t present any evidence that wasn’t available prior to her trial. However, Judge Trenga did grant her motion based on the “other grounds” that the jury’s guilty verdict was against the weight of the prosecution’s evidence presented during her trial by uncredible witnesses. The legal standard for her succeed with that argument in her Rule 33 motion was much less stringent than the one she failed to meet in her unsuccessful Motion For Acquittal.

Judge Trenga’s ruling stated:

“Other than thoroughly impeached testimony, there was little to no other evidence concerning Defendant’s knowing and voluntary participation in the conspiracy or any intent to further the goals and objectives of the conspiracy … In fact, there was unrefuted testimony that the Defendant repeatedly took steps to both stop her husband’s illegal activities and also to distance herself from those activities, including physically separating from him. Based on all of the evidence, the Court finds and concludes that … Defendant’s conviction weighs so heavily against the jury’s verdict that there is a substantial possibility that the trial resulted in a miscarriage of justice and that a new trial is required in the interests of justice. …. it is hereby ORDERED that Defendant’s Motion for a New Trial be, and the same hereby is, GRANTED; and it is further ORDERED that Defendant’s conviction on June 13, 2016 be, and the same hereby is, VACATED….” (USA v. Granberry et al, No. 1-16-cr-00028-ajt-2 (USDC Eastern Dist. of Virginia, 2-24-2017))

The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not appeal the ruling, and filed a Motion To Dismiss Roxanne’s indictment, which was granted by Judge Trenga on May 18, 2017. Gene Rossi — the lead prosecutor during Roxanne’s trial who later resigned to run for Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor — told The Washington Post that he disagreed with the DOJ’s decision not to appeal Judge Trenga’s ruling: “There has never been a drug trial in America where a witness has been completely consistent. If that is the test, every guilty verdict from a jury in a drug case should be set aside.”

On May 22, 2017 Judge Trenga ordered Roxanne’s release from her supervision. She had only spent one day in custody after her arrest on December 8, 2015, before her release the next day on a personal recognizance bond.

Roxanne’s daughter Brianna publicly commented in response to a The Washington Post article about her mother’s vindication:

I bloody knew it. I called it out. This is what happens when you ignore the children, because I was right about her being innocent, because I know my mother!! In the future, you should ask the ones that really know instead of getting information from criminal who are just attempting to grasp at straws to save their own butts!!! I personally am offended that the people runnign this country, are not smarter than an 11 year old who just knows her stuff. Vive La Resistance!!!

Although Roxanne’s criminal case is resolved, her legal travails are not yet over.

Following William’s sentencing on June 24, 2016, the government pursued civil forfeiture of the 5,000 square foot house on three acres in Hughesville, Maryland that he and Roxanne bought in 2007 for $760,000. (Hughesville is about 34 miles southeast of Washington D.C.) The government’s theory is there is a substantial connection between the property and the drug conspiracy William was convicted of masterminding. The government’s attempt to seize the house through forfeiture based on Roxanne’s conviction became moot when her indictment was dismissed.*

The primary defense against the forfeiture is by the woman who “bought” the house in May 2013 from William and Roxanne, who asserts she is the owner so it is not subject to forfeiture. The government argues the woman — who is Roxanne’s mother — does not have a “true ownership interest” because she is a “straw buyer” who paid less than the debt on the house in a “short sale.” The government also alleges that much of the money for the purchase was in cash so its source is untraceable. The government also argues that not only did William and Roxanne continue living in the house after it was “sold,” but they paid all bills and spent many thousands of dollars for improvements to the property that included an in-ground swimming pool. The government also argues the sale was bogus because the same month that Roxanne’s mother “bought” the house in Hughesville, Roxanne bought a house in Elkton, Maryland for her mother to live in.

Innovative Home Elevators trucks on jobsite (www.innhomeelevators.com)

Innovative Home Elevators trucks on jobsite (www.innhomeelevators.com)

Roxanne continues to live in the house the government is seeking to seize. It is also the headquarters for her home elevator company that she founded in 2011. Roxanne is a licensed elevator mechanic in the International Union of Elevator Constructors Local #10. She is a Certified Qualified Elevator Inspector, and is a licensed elevator mechanic in many states that include Maryland, The District of Columbia, New York, Virginia, and California.

In June 2011 she founded Innovative Home Elevators LLC. The Articles of Organization filed in Maryland state its purpose is, “to install, maintain, service, and inspect residential elevators.” The company’s website states Roxanne “decided to start this domestic elevator company after her grandmother and husband were both in need of residential mobility solutions. She realized that people should not be uncomfortable in there own home because of life’s changes and that the elderly should be safe when going from one level of there home to the other.”

A total of 13 people pled guilty to charges related to their involvement in William Granberry’s illegal oxycodone procurement and distribution operation. William’s scheduled release date from federal prison is Sept. 28, 2024.

Click here to read Judge Tenga’s Order granting a new trial in USA v. Granberry et al, No. 1:16-CR-00028-ajt-2 (USDC Eastern Dist. of Virginia, 2-24-2017).

Endnote:
* On August 26, 2016 the government filed a motion in Roxanne Granberry’s case for forfeiture of the same house. Judge Trenga didn’t dismiss the government’s Motion for forfeiture of the house filed in Roxanne’s case, but the granting of her motion for a new trial and dismissal of the charges made that motion moot.

Picture: Roxanne Granberry (Facebook)
Lower picture: Innovative Home Elevators trucks on jobsite (www.innhomeelevators.com)

July 6, 2017
By Hans Sherrer
Justice Denied

Permanent link to this article: http://justicedenied.org/wordpress/archives/3756