The opinion of the court was delivered by: MUIR
Defendant Louis Ciancutti has moved to suppress wiretap evidence obtained by the United States government in its investigation of defendant Leta's alleged gambling activities. For the reasons set forth below, this motion is denied.
On May 1, 1970, the Honorable William J. Nealon of this court signed an Order pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2518 authorizing the interception of wire communications over two private telephones, one in the home of defendant Leta and one frequently used by Leta in a glass shop owned by another. Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation commenced the authorized interception on May 6, 1970, and terminated this surveillance eight days later.
Based upon the information obtained from the intercepted conversations, defendant Ciancutti was indicted for alleged crimes relating to interstate gambling under 18 U.S.C. §§ 371 and 1952. In his motion to suppress, this defendant contends (1) that Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, 18 U.S.C. § 2510 et seq., is unconstitutional on its face; (2) that assuming arguendo that Title III is constitutional, neither its requirements nor those of the Fourth Amendment were satisfied in this case since there was no probable cause to issue a wiretap warrant; and (3) that the use of a wiretap was not necessary in this case.
1. Constitutionality of 18 U.S.C. § 2510 et seq.
Defendant makes several arguments that Title III of the Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2510 et seq. is unconstitutional. He has standing to raise these points since he has been indisputably affected by the alleged defects. He does not raise, and I do not deal with, the question of the constitutionality of the emergency and national security provisions of the statute.
Defendant's first contention is that the Fourth Amendment's command that a search warrant particularly describe the things to be seized is not met by the particularization requirements of 18 U.S.C. § 2518, "Procedure for interception of wire or oral communications." I do not agree. The New York wiretap statute struck down in Berger v. New York, 388 U.S. 41, 87 S. Ct. 1873, 18 L. Ed. 2d 1040 (1967), did not require "particularity in the warrant as to what specific crime has been or is being committed * * * 'the place to be searched' * * * [and] 'the persons or things to be seized.'"
18 U.S.C. § 2518 requires that the crime be specified, that the location of the telephone be specified, and that the communications to be seized be specified. Defendant contends that the third of these three particularity requirements does not in fact require particularity. I disagree. 18 U.S.C. § 2518(4)(c) requires "a particular description of the type of communication sought to be intercepted, and a statement of the particular offense to which it relates." In the wiretap order in this case, for instance, interception of wire communications concerning "the interstate transmission of bets or wagers, together with line information" was authorized, there being probable cause to believe that specified gambling offenses were being and were about to be committed. This type of description is fully as particular as the description "cases of whiskey" upheld as sufficiently particular in the leading case of Steele v. United States, 267 U.S. 498, 504, 45 S. Ct. 414, 69 L. Ed. 757 (1925). Stanford v. Texas, 379 U.S. 476, 85 S. Ct. 506, 13 L. Ed. 2d 431 (1965), cited by the defendant, in which the Court struck down a search warrant for lack of particularity, is not controlling here. In that case, the Court stated that the Fourth Amendment's requirement of particularity "is to be accorded the most scrupulous exactitude when the 'things' are books, and the basis for their seizure is the ideas which they contain."
Here, authorization to seize extended only to conversations concerning gambling. The seizure was not based on any ideological content which might be found in these conversations.
Defendant further contends that Title III is like the New York statute condemned in Berger in that "the conversations of any and all persons coming into the area covered by the device will be seized indiscriminately and without regard to their connection with the crime under investigation."
Preliminarily, it should be noted that the seizure of items which have not been particularly described does not per se vitiate the entire search; the entire search is vitiated only if it is unreasonable. For instance, if, pursuant to a valid search warrant authorizing the seizure of marijuana, particles of oregano are seized, the marijuana does not automatically become inadmissible. There, as here, if the defendant wishes to object to the introduction in evidence of the particularly described items, he must show that the seizure of the undescribed items or other misconduct in the search makes the entire search unreasonable. Title III's requirement that wiretapping "be conducted in such a way as to minimize the interception of communications not otherwise subject to interception under this chapter"
and its other safeguards which were absent from the New York statute struck down in Berger5 are intended to reduce the amount of indiscriminate search and seizure. Furthermore, nearly continuous seizure (conducted in accordance with the requirements of 18 U.S.C. § 2518(5), as discussed in note 4, supra) of the defendant's phone conversations may protect the defendant from having these conversations edited to his detriment or having statements taken out of context. In my view, the benefits to society from crimes solved or frustrated by the use of wiretapping pursuant to Title III outweigh the limited invasion of privacy sanctioned by Title III. Thus, Title III's requirements provide for a search and seizure which is reasonable.
Defendant's next contention is that continuous 24-hour-a-day searches for up to thirty days on one showing of probable cause are offensive to the Fourth Amendment. A search which lasts too long may be unreasonable, but it is my view that since a wiretap under Title III is to last no longer than necessary "to achieve the objective of the authorization,"
and in any event no longer than 30 days without a new showing of presently existing probable cause, the length of the search authorized by the statute is reasonable. The Court in Berger objected that "authorization of eavesdropping for a two-month period is the equivalent of a series of intrusions, searches, and seizures pursuant to a single showing of probable cause."
However, as noted above, Title III does not have many of the other objectionable features of the New York statute in Berger,8 and has halved the maximum length of a tap made on the basis of one showing of probable cause. In addition, although the Court did not deal with a continuous surveillance in Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 354, 88 S. Ct. 507, 513, 19 L. Ed. 2d 576 (1967), it did state that it would have been constitutional for a magistrate to have authorized the six searches which took place there over a period of several days upon a single showing of probable cause.
In my view, the statute is constitutional on its face.
2. The Existence of Probable Cause for the Warrant.10
"Confidential informant number 3 is personally known to affiant. He has been an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation for 18 years and has been provided information to affiant for the past year. Numerous arrests and convictions have resulted from the information provided * * * and his information has been consistently corroborated by independent investigation. This informant's information has never been demonstrated to be false or inaccurate."
All these factors are entitled, under the relevant Supreme Court decisions, to significant weight in determining probable cause for a search. There is no doubt that they go far beyond a bare statement that the affiant believes that the informant is ...