United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO WITHDRAW GUILTY PLEA
E. SCHREIER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Stephanie Broecker, moves under Federal Rule of Criminal
Procedure 11(d) to withdraw her guilty plea. Docket 85. The
government opposes the motion. Docket 107. For the following
reasons, the court denies Broecker's motion to withdraw
her guilty plea.
April 4, 2018, a federal grand jury named Broecker in an
indictment, charging her with distribution of a controlled
substance resulting in death. Docket 1. The indictment stated
Broecker distributed heroin to K.P. and that his death
resulted from use of that heroin. Docket 1. On November 16,
2017, Broecker mailed K.P. heroin from Rockford, Illinois.
Docket 107 at 1. Earlier that morning, K.P. wired Broecker
$150 in exchange. Id. Broecker included a note with
the heroin that warned K.P. to be careful when using the
drug. Id. at 1-2.
was found dead on November 19, 2017 after a night of drug use
with friends in Fedora, South Dakota. Docket 88 at 10; Docket
107 at 2. His blood tested positive for morphine and THC.
Docket 107 at 2; Docket 88 at 12; Docket 88-1 at 22. His
urine contained methamphetamine, fentanyl, codeine, morphine,
and 6-monoacetylmorphine. Docket 107 at 2-3; Docket 88 at 12;
Docket 88-1 at 25. The heroin sent from Broecker to K.P. was
tested and found to contain 89% pure heroin. Docket 88 at 11;
Docket 88-1 at 13. No. other substances were identified.
Docket 88 at 11.
the indictment, Broecker was initially represented by the
Federal Public Defender's office. Docket 14. She retained
private counsel several weeks later and was represented by
Lawrence S. Beaumont, an attorney based in Palos Heights,
Ilinois. Docket 35. Rick L. Ramstad was local counsel. Docket
December 6, 2018, a plea agreement, sealed plea agreement
supplement, and statement of factual basis-all signed by
Broecker, Ramstad, and Beaumont-were filed with the court.
Dockets 51, 52, 53. In the statement of factual basis,
On or about November 16, 2017, I mailed heroin from Rockford,
Illinois, to [K.P.] in Fedora, South Dakota, utilizing the
United States Postal Service. [K.P.] received the U.S. Postal
parcel that contained the heroin on November 18, 2017, in
South Dakota. [K.P.] ingested the heroin that I sent him in
the evening of November 18, 2017, and early morning hours of
November 19, 2017. On November 19, 2017, [K.P.] died.
Minnehaha County Coroner Dr. Kenneth Snell determined that
[K.P.'s] cause of death was heroin toxicity, and that but
for the use of the heroin I sent [K.P.], he would not have
died on November 19, 2017.
Docket 52 at 1.
December 10, 2018, the court held a change of plea hearing.
Docket 55. Ramstad attended the hearing. Id. At the
hearing, Broeker was placed under oath and participated in a
Rule 11 colloquy with the court. Docket 96 at 2-14. The court
questioned Broecker regarding all the relevant requirements
of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(b)(1). See
Id. The court told Broecker she faced a mandatory
minimum sentence of 20 years and a possible maximum sentence
of up to life if she pleaded guilty. Id. at 8. The
court then asked Broecker if she understood. Id.
Broecker responded that she did understand. Id.
court asked if Broecker was “fully satisfied with the
counsel, representation, and advice that [she]
received” from her attorney. Id. at 5.
Broecker responded, “Absolutely, Your Honor.”
Id. The court continued, confirming with Broecker
that she had discussed the plea agreement with both Beaumont
and Ramstad. Id. at 5-6. Broecker stated that she
had. Id. at 6. The court asked Broecker if anyone
“made any promise or assurance to [her] that's not
written down in the plea agreement or the plea agreement
supplement to try to persuade [her] to accept those
agreements.” Id. at 6. Broecker confirmed no
one had made such promises. Id. The court asked
Broecker if she understood she could be sentenced more
severely than she anticipated. Id. She stated that
she understood. Id. The court asked Broecker if she
had read the factual basis statement and if everything in the
factual basis statement was the truth. Id. at 12.
She confirmed she had read it before she signed it and it was
the truth. Id. Broecker entered a plea of guilty to
the charge and the court accepted the plea and found her
guilty. Id. at 14.
then moved to remain out of custody pending sentencing.
Id. at 17. In response, the court asked the
government if it was going to recommend that no sentence of
imprisonment be imposed on Broecker to determine whether
Broecker overcame the presumption of detention under 18
U.S.C. § 3143. Id. at 18. The government stated
that it would be recommending the mandatory 20-year minimum
than two months later, on February 26, 2018, Broecker,
through Ramstad, filed an ex parte motion to
discharge Beaumont and appoint Ramstad as her attorney.
Docket 58. In an attached affidavit, Broecker stated that
Beaumont, a friend of her father's, had been retained by
her mother to represent her. Docket 58-1 ¶ 3. Broecker
claimed in the affidavit that Beaumont had initially
indicated that the case had “significant legal
issues” and he planned to obtain a forensic evaluation
of the evidence. Id. ¶ 4. The issues Beaumont
referred to arose in part because of a toxicology report that
had been performed for the government by Axis Forensic
Technology, which indicated that K.P.'s urine tested
positive for fentanyl at the time of his death. See
Docket 107-2 at 7. The same report also reported that
K.P.'s blood contained cannabinoids, THC, and morphine.
Id. at 4.
affidavit, Broecker stated that Beaumont requested money from
her mother to retain an expert for an independent evaluation
of the toxicology evidence. Docket 58-1 ¶ 6. But
Beaumont did not provide copies of reports or expert findings
to Broecker or her family members before he presented the
plea agreement to her. Id. When Broecker asked about
the expert opinion, Beaumont told her that the government had
a witness who would testify that the heroin caused K.P.'s
death. Id. ...