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United States v. Muessig

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
427 F.3d 856 (2005)


Facts

The federal government (plaintiff) prosecuted Huong Muessig and Nga Tran (defendants) for distributing "precursor" chemicals, knowing that they would be used to manufacture a controlled substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(c)(2). The trial evidence established that Muessig and Tran operated two convenience stores that stocked the cold remedy pseudoephedrine. From June 2000 to September 2001, Tran sold undercover detective Mark Wenthold hundreds of pseudoephedrine pills at far more than their retail price. Tran's pseudoephedrine supplier and Tran's sister both warned her against selling large quantities of the pills because they could be used, illegally, to make the controlled substance methamphetamine. Wenthold told Tran that he used the pills precisely for that purpose. On several occasions, Wenthold had to calm Tran after she expressed fear that he was working for the police. Wenthold also urged Tran to sell him bottles of pills, rather than blister packs, because the bottles made it easier to release a large number of pills at once. Beginning in April 2001, Wenthold also bought pills from Muessig. Muessig voiced her suspicions that Wenthold might send her to jail, but she accepted Tran's and Wenthold's reassurances. Over a two-week period, Muessig sold Wenthold 3,024 pills, a two-year supply for normal cold-fighting purposes. Two witnesses testified that Muessig knew that pseudoephedrine was a precursor chemical. The jury convicted both Muessig and Tran, and they appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, contending that the government's evidence was insufficient to prove that they knew Wenthold intended to use the pseudoephedrine to make methamphetamine.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Tymkovich, J.)

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