Judge denies accused drug trafficker’s request for release

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An accused drug trafficker with a long history of similar convictions was denied a request for bond by a federal judge in Texarkana at a hearing Thursday.

Randy Caldwell, 40, appeared with Hot Springs attorney Morse Gist for a detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant. Caldwell was indicted in June in the Texarkana Division of the Western District of Arkansas for allegedly distributing methamphetamine in the area on two dates in 2017.

Caldwell pleaded not guilty to the charges at a hearing in June. Assistant U.S. Attorney Denis Dean called Amanda Jordon of the Federal Probation Department to testify.

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Jordan testified that Caldwell has seven prior felony convictions which are all related to the sale of controlled substances and that Caldwell has numerous misdemeanor charges for failing to appear in court. Jordan said Caldwell was on parole for a drug-related offense at the time of his arrest on the federal charges he currently faces and that if released from federal custody, he will be transferred to Arkansas state custody to serve time on that charge.

Jordan testified that Caldwell is from the Hope, Ark., area and that his wife is a life-long resident of Texarkana. Caldwell’s wife testified that if her husband is released from federal custody and later released from state custody, the couple will find a residence to share. The wife said she is currently living with her parents in Texarkana.

Caldwell’s wife said Caldwell has not been receiving the treatment and medication he needs to treat his diabetes while in the Bi-State jail in Texarkana.

Dean argued that Caldwell’s history of repeated felony drug convictions show that he has “chosen to be a drug dealer,” and asked Bryant to keep Caldwell in federal custody. Dean said that Caldwell could have been indicted under a statute which would have included a mandatory sentence of life. Dean further emphasized that Caldwell was on parole at the time of the alleged federal crimes.

“He had all this supervision before and he’s still offending,” Dean argued. “His consistent and continued drug trafficking is a danger to the community.”

Gist advocated for Caldwell’s release and expressed concern for Caldwell’s medical condition.

Bryant ultimately sided with Dean and ordered that Caldwell remain in federal custody. Bryant said the law requires him to consider whether any conditions of release will insure a defendant’s appearance in court and protect the community when evaluating a defendant’s request for pretrial release.

Bryant said the nature of the offenses charged weigh against releasing Caldwell and said the alleged crimes carry minimum five-year and 10-year terms. Bryant said the grand jury indictment of Caldwell indicates there is probable cause to believe he committed the crimes charged and referenced Caldwell’s prior felony history and history of failing to show in court.

Bryant said that while Caldwell hasn’t been accused of a violent crime, drug dealing is considered a danger to the community. Bryant directed the U.S. Marshals Service to touch base with medical staff at the Bi-State jail to insure his medical needs are being addressed.

Caldwell’s case is set for jury selection Nov. 26 before U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey.

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