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United States v. Burrows

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
36 F.3d 875 (1994)


A man nicknamed “Bugsy,” who was working as a confidential informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), contacted Ronald Olen Burrows (defendant) and informed him that he had a prospective buyer of five pounds of methamphetamine if Burrows wanted to sell the drugs. Burrows agreed, but was not aware that the “purchaser” was an undercover DEA agent. Burrows traveled to meet his co-defendant, Rodriguez, and obtained the drugs. After Bugsy and Burrows met at an agreed-upon time and place, they both met the agent acting as the “purchaser,” Steve Youngblood, in a parking lot. Once Burrows produced the methamphetamine, he was arrested. Burrows attempted to convince the agents that he too was working undercover for Riverside County Deputy Sheriff Kenneth Vann to arrest Rodriguez. At the request of DEA agents, Burrows contacted Rodriguez and instructed him to come to the parking lot to assist in the transaction. Rodriguez and two others were arrested upon their arrival at that location. The government did not believe Burrows’ story about working undercover and prosecuted him as well as Rodriguez and another. At trial, Burrows testified that he had been working for Deputy Vann. However, Vann testified that he had visited Burrows in jail, at Burrows’ request, and had asked him to target Rodriguez but that Burrows had never worked for him as an informant, never paged him during the transaction in question, and was not working for him at the time of the transaction. The district court instructed the jury on the defense of public authority. The jury rejected Burrows’ defense and convicted him of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Burrows appealed.

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Holding and Reasoning (Fletcher, J.)

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