Beasley was a chemist. He went to a doctor named Rucker
and claimed that he had a theory that prescription tranquilizers would
help plants grow vegetables.
He convinced Rucker to write out prescriptions for lots of
drugs, made out to Beasley and his assistants (Brooks and Pierce). He
then convinced three pharmacists to fill the prescriptions.
All of the drugs Beasley claimed he needed were
controlled substances (e.g. Morphine, Demerol, Valium, etc.)
Brooks just happened to be a convicted drug dealer.
Unsurprisingly, Beasley was arrested and charged with
selling the drugs on the black market.
Beasley argued that he had given the drugs to the
At trial, the prosecution attempted to introduce testimony
by Terrell and Parks to show that Beasley was involved in drug deals and
'doctor shopping' some years before he went to Rucker.
Beasley objected on the grounds that evidence of an extrinsic
act was inadmissible.
The prosecution argued that the evidence helped to
establish a pattern that Beasley was involved in dealing drugs.
The Trial Judge allowed the evidence to be admitted under FRE
FRE 404(b) says that, "Evidence of other
crimes, wrongs, or acts is not admissible to prove the character of a
person in order to show action in conformity therewith. It may, however,
be admissible for other purposes, such as proof of motive, opportunity,
intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or
Beasley was convicted of drug offenses. He appealed.
The Appellate Court partially reversed and remanded for a
The Appellate Court found that there was a two part test
to determine if an extrinsic act was admissible under FRE
First, it must be determined that the extrinsic offence
evidence is relevant to an issue other than the defendant's character.
Second, the evidence must possess probative value that
is not substantially outweighed by its undue prejudice, and meet the
requirements of FRE 403.
The Appellate Court found that under FRE 404(b)
if showing a 'pattern' of drug dealing is only offered to show a
propensity of the defendant to commit the crime he is charged with, then
that goes to Beasley's character, and is therefore prohibited under FRE
"Patterns of acts may show identity, intent, plan
absence of mistake, or one of the other listed grounds, but a pattern is
not itself a reason to admit the evidence."
However, the Appellate Court found that the evidence can
theoretically be used to prove intent, especially in this case where
Beasley claimed he bought the drugs to conduct some scientific
Pattern evidence can also be used to show "identity."
This is the same as "modus operandi" or "signature crimes" and usually
requires close proximity in time.
Here, the acts were not so similar or unusual to
qualify as "pattern" evidence.
In order to be admissible under FRE 404(b), the
Trial Judge has to weigh the benefits of the evidence for intent purposes
against the danger of prejudice.
In this case, the Trial Judge did not conduct such
balancing test, so the case is remanded to determine if the evidence
should be admissible or not.
The Appellate Court found that the two counts of
fraudulently obtaining drugs would stand because any error was harmless,
because Beasley represented that Brooks and Pierce were his research
assistants, when they were not, and Rucker had written prescriptions for
them that were based on misrepresentation.