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Friday, January 15, 2010

12 year fugitive from drug trafficing charges caught

Jail time is long and hard

Donnell Hatcher was sentenced Tuesday to 240 months in prison for possession with intent to distribute heroin, a sentence which will run consecutive to a previously-imposed 200 month sentence, United States Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello announced.

Hatcher, 43, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Aug. 27, 1992. He was charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and heroin, possession with intent to distribute heroin, and several counts of using a telephone to facilitate drug trafficking. Pursuant to a plea agreement, he pled guilty on June 2, 1993, to possession with intent to distribute heroin. When Hatcher entered his guilty plea, he admitted that he drove from the Los Angeles area to Oakland, Calif., with the intent of selling 445 grams of heroin that he had hidden in the tire of his car. The evidence in support of the charges showed that Hatcher supplied heroin to members of a violent Oakland gang in the early 1990s. Hatcher was ordered to appear for sentencing on Nov. 23, 1993, but failed to appear.

“This case should send a message to defendants everywhere that failing to appear for court proceedings or fleeing the jurisdiction to avoid prosecution does not pay,” U.S. Attorney Russoniello said. “The United States Attorney’s Office does not close a case because the defendant fails to appear. When a defendant is apprehended, he will be prosecuted on the original charges and face the possibility of additional charges based on his fleeing the jurisdiction.”

Hatcher remained a fugitive until he was arrested on May 3, 2006 in Hoover, Ala. Following his arrest, Hatcher was charged by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of Alabama with and convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, attempt to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, and felon in possession of a firearm. On Dec. 20, 2007, He was sentenced to 200 months imprisonment by the Honorable Karon Owen Bodre, United States District Judge in the Northern District of Alabama.

Hatcher was returned to the Northern District of California in 2008. After his return, he filed two motions to withdraw his 1992 guilty plea. Both motions were denied by the Honorable William B. Shubb, United States District Judge in the Eastern District of California, sitting by designation.

The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Shubb, who also sentenced the defendant to a five year period of supervised release. Hatcher remains in custody.

Hatcher was also indicted on June 19, 2009 by a federal grand jury with failing to appear for sentencing in 1993. He pled guilty to that charge on July 15, 2009. That case is currently set for a hearing on March 11, 2010 on Hatcher’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea.

The maximum statutory penalty for failing to appear, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, section 3146 is 10 years imprisonment plus a fine of $250,000. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Denise Marie Barton is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Hui Chen. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, working under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

The indictment charging Mr. Hatcher with failing to appear contains only allegations and, as with all defendants, Mr. Hatcher must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Further Information:

Case #s: CR 92-0001 WBS (NDCA), CR 09-0625 WBS (NDCA), 07-BE-144-S (NDAL)

A copy of this press release may be found on the U.S. Attorney's Office's Web site at

Electronic court filings and further procedural and docket information are available at

Judges' calendars with schedules for upcoming court hearings can be viewed on the court's Web site at

All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney's Office should be directed to Jack Gillund at (415) 436-6599 or by e-mail at

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