The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHARD P. CONABOY
Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion For Suppression of Evidence (Doc.No. 72). The Government has responded to the motion. We have carefully reviewed their respective memorandums of law. For the reasons stated below, we will deny the motion.
Rosa Marraro Crespo is charged in the same indictment with her half-brother, Nestor Ariel Soto, (Counts 1 and 2), as well as Sharon Forte, (Counts 1, 3, 6 and 7), and her children, Annetta (Counts 1, 4 and 8), and Brian Forte (Count 3). The Fortes entered guilty pleas in this case on June 13, 1994.
Codefendant Soto was indicted on the same charges as Crespo, i.e., one count each of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of cocaine - Count I, and possession with intent to deliver cocaine - Count II. Crespo and Soto were arrested by the Pennsylvania State Police and Hazelton Police on December 23, 1993, in a car located outside the Forte residence at 868 North Vine Street in Hazelton.
The chronicle of the aforementioned arrest is strategically set forth by both the prosecution and the defense. We mean to say that some areas of the account are vague and it may be that they are purposefully vague. Nevertheless, the following appears to be an accurate representation of what transpired on December 23, 1993.
As a result of confidential source information that a Puerto Rican male known as Ariel was transporting quantities of cocaine from Connecticut to Hazelton, Pennsylvania, on an every other day basis, officers of the Pennsylvania State Police initiated surveillance of the Forte residence on December 23, 1993. During the surveillance, an officer contacted a confidential informant by car phone and was advised that Ariel was running late but would arrive within the hour.
Approximately fifty minutes later, this officer identified and observed one Elizabeth Brotzman exit the residence. Being aware of outstanding warrants for Brotzman, he proceeded to confront and place Brotzman under arrest. Shortly thereafter, a maroon colored Chevrolet bearing a Connecticut registration pulled up in front of the Forte residence. Brotzman told the officer "this is Ariel".
Defendant would have us believe that Crespo was "immediately handcuffed and transported to the Hazelton General Hospital Emergency Room. . . where she was searched by an unidentified female nurse." The government states that when the officer removed the baggie he then performed a field test. When the substance tested positive for cocaine, both Crespo and Soto were placed under arrest. Crespo was then transported to Hazelton General where a female nurse did, if fact, conduct a further search of her person (both clothing and body cavities). This search resulted in the discovery of another bag of cocaine. Soto and Crespo were finally transported to the Hazelton Police Department for processing.
The Defendant attacks the validity of the seizure by Trooper Hischar and Detective Harry as well as the seizure by the unidentified female nurse. Specifically, with regard to the officers' seizure, Defendant asserts that she was not under arrest, was not handcuffed and was not questioned at the time of seizure. She further avers the officers had no authority to search her jacket pockets, her pants or any article of clothing because she was not under arrest.
I. Seizure By The Trooper
Because of the information conveyed to them by their informant, the officers knew that a Puerto Rican male named Ariel would be arriving at the Forte residence to deliver cocaine to the Fortes. In addition, their rather successful surveillance had earlier delivered to them not only a wanted criminal but one that could identify and thereby confirm the individual named Ariel. It is plain to us, upon arrival of the Connecticut marked Chevrolet, that the officers had a "reasonable and articulable suspicion" that criminal activity may be afoot. ...