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United States v. Hall

May 4, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Munley


Presently before the Court for disposition is Defendant Ivan Hall's motion to suppress evidence seized from his home on May 2, 2005 pursuant to a search warrant. This matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition. For the following reasons, we will deny the motion.


On April 28, 2005, United States Magistrate Judge Malachy E. Mannion executed a warrant to search Hall's residence at 59 S. Fulton Street in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. The warrant was supported by an affidavit of probable cause executed by Federal Task Force Officer Joseph Coffay. Officer Coffay has extensive experience in the field of narcotics investigation. (Coffay Aff. ¶¶ 5-6)

On August 7, 2003, Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Chris O'Brien witnessed an individual purchase crack cocaine from 221 East Northampton Street, Wilkes Barre, Pennsyvania. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 35) A subsequent search of the address uncovered a handgun, marijuana, and crack cocaine. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 35) When officers effected the search, numerous individuals, including Ivan Hall, attempted to flee the premises. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 35) When the officers apprehended Hall, they found him in possession of a quantity of marijuana. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 35)

On July 22, 2004, a confidential informant purchased a quantity of crack cocaine from Umberto Cunningham, Ivan Hall, and Kevin Weatherspoon. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 36) The informant drove a vehicle occupied by Cunningham and Hall. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 36-37) Hall telephoned Kevin Weatherspoon, and Weatherspoon directed them to meet him on Moyallen Street to purchase the narcotics. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 36-37) Weatherspoon arrived at the location, and Cunningham entered his vehicle and received the drugs. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 37-38) Cunningham returned to the informant's vehicle and handed the informant a substance that laboratory tests later revealed to be cocaine base. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 38)

Since the summer of 2004, Coffay investigated the drug trafficking activities of Eric and Kevin Weatherspoon. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 8) On March 11, 13, 14, and 18, 2005, agents intercepted coded conversations in which Kevin and Eric Weatherspoon discussed their drug trafficking activities. (Coffay Aff. ¶¶ 13-18)

On April 16, 2005, Eric informed Kevin that he had a quantity of drugs to provide for him, and Kevin explained he was willing to travel to Eric's location to pick up the drugs. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 23) At the time, Eric was visiting Ivan Hall's residence. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 23) Later that day, in a coded conversation, Kevin explained that the quantity of drugs had been placed in a residence at 85 Madison Street. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 24) A search of 85 Madison Street on April 19, 2005 uncovered approximately a half kilogram of suspected crack cocaine and over one hundred grams of suspected powder cocaine. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 27)

On April 20, 2005, Kevin and Eric discussed whether a dealer known as "Miami" had repaid Kevin for drugs that Kevin had fronted. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 34) Kevin indicated that Miami had not provided the funds, but when he did, he would have $37,000 in drug proceeds. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 34)

On April 27, 2005, Coffay intercepted a conversation between "Miami," then identified as Duwanne Patterson, and Kevin, where Patterson advised Kevin to meet him "where we get the CD's." (Coffay Aff. ¶ 39) On a number of occasions, the participants in the Weatherspoon drug trafficking enterprise referred to controlled substances as "CDs" to mask their drug trades in telephone conversations. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 39)

After receiving Patterson's advice, Kevin traveled to 59 S. Fulton Street, and Coffay observed him enter the residence. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 40) Kevin exited the residence a short time thereafter with Patterson and Hall. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 40) They proceeded to a restaurant, where they stayed for an hour, and then they returned to 59 S. Fulton Street. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 40) After an hour, Kevin left the residence. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 40) Then Hall left the residence, entered his vehicle, and drove around the block once. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 40) When he drove around the block, he met with one individual at a street corner, and picked up two people individually and discharged each after a short time. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 40) Coffay opined in his affidavit that "the conduct observed is consistent with the fact that Hall was meeting people to distribute drugs to them after having retrieved the drugs from his residence at 59 S. Fulton Street." (Coffay Aff. ¶ 40)

Shortly thereafter, video surveillance revealed that Patterson returned to 59 S. Fulton with two other individuals in the vehicle; he exited the vehicle and entered the residence; he re-entered the vehicle; drove around the block once with the two other occupants; and then Patterson exited the vehicle and returned to the residence as the vehicle drove off. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 41) Coffay opined that this behavior also was consistent with the fact that Patterson obtained drugs from the residence and then distributed them. (Coffay Aff. ¶ 41)

On April 28, 2005, Coffay executed his affidavit in support of a search warrant for Hall's residence at 59 S. Fulton Street, and on that day United States Magistrate Judge Malachy Mannion granted the application. The warrant authorized the seizure of "any and all paraphernalia evidencing the manufacture, distribution and/or ingestion of controlled substances, including but not limited to the following: items and/or substances used to prepare cocaine base (crack); cutting agents; scales; materials used to package controlled substances." The search was executed on May 2, 2005, and uncovered: 1) a black nine millimeter handgun with holster; 2) United States currency; 3) miscellaneous photographs/ paperwork; 4) a silver handgun with holster; 5) two digital scales; 6) multiple ounces of suspected marijuana; and 6) several unknown pink pills.

On May 5, 2003, the Grand Jury for the Middle District of Pennsylvania indicted Hall along with twelve other defendants for various offenses relating to ...

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