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UNITED STATES v. MIAH
December 19, 1977
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Cahn, District Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: CAHN
This is a motion to suppress physical evidence seized from defendant Leroy Miah's home on November 4, 1976, and to suppress a statement made to FBI agents subsequent to defendant's being informed of his Miranda rights. While I find that the government has committed several technical errors in its conduct of the investigation of the defendant, I conclude that these are insufficient to support defendant's position. Accordingly, the motions to suppress are denied.
On November 4, 1976, agents of the FBI obtained a warrant to search the home of defendant Miah for evidence of illegal gambling activities. The magistrate issued the warrant on the basis of the sworn affidavit of Special Agent Ernest Odom. Agent Odom in his affidavit relied upon information furnished by two confidential informants and upon corroborating FBI evidence.
The FBI executed the warrant in a timely fashion. At approximately 4:10 p.m., Special Agents Sherwood and Stokes, backed up by over a dozen other agents armed with guns and sledge hammers, approached the entrance of defendant's home. As Agent Stokes hit the transparent storm door once with his hand and yelled "FBI", the agents observed the defendant in the hallway. Agent Stokes called out the defendant's name and identified himself as "FBI". The defendant -- perhaps frightened by the mob of armed agents outside the door -- turned and fled. Without identifying themselves further, the agents entered the premises and pursued the defendant. In the process of doing so, the agents forcibly broke an inner door which someone had closed behind the defendant.
After entering, the agents searched the premises for gambling paraphernalia. In the process, they uncovered a pistol which is in part the subject of this motion to suppress. Although the defendant had been informed of his Miranda rights, including the right to remain silent, he responded to a question by Agent Stokes by stating that he was "keeping" the gun "for a friend". Defendant apparently seeks to suppress the statement as well as the search.
On December 14, 1976, defendant was indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(h)(1), relating to unlawful receipt of a firearm. On October 3, 1977, I held a hearing on defendant's motion to suppress and entered an order permitting the government and the defendant to submit supplemental briefs on the issues raised during the hearing. Upon consideration of the evidence introduced and the memoranda submitted to me, I now conclude that defendant's motion must be denied.
Defendant's motion raises the following issues:
1. Was the search warrant issued without probable cause?
2. Was the manner of the FBI's entry into defendant's premises unlawful?
3. Was Agent Odom's failure to sign his affidavit a sufficient defect in the affidavit to nullify the warrant ...
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