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United States v. Crutchfield

June 29, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
IRWIN CRUTCHFIELD



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Surrick, J.

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Defendant Irwin Crutchfield's Motion to Suppress Physical Evidence. (Doc. No. 8.) For the following reasons, the Motion will be denied.

I. BACKGROUND

On December 16, 2008, the grand jury returned a three-count indictment charging Irwin Crutchfield ("Defendant") with various drug and firearm offenses. (See Doc. No. 1.) The indictment charged Defendant with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1);possession with intent to distribute cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(c); and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1).

II. FINDINGS OF FACT

On December 12, 2006, Defendant was released on parole from a Pennsylvania state prison. (Suppression Hr'g Tr. 9, June 24, 2009.) Conditions of Defendant's parole included that Defendant continue to reside at 319 Harding Boulevard in Norristown, Pennsylvania, and that Defendant obtain prior written permission from the Pennsylvania Board of Probation & Parole before moving from that address. (Id. at 10; see also id., Gov't Ex. G-1.) Defendant agreed that parole agents could conduct warrantless searches of his residence:

I hereby agree that . . . I expressly consent to the search of my person, property and residence, without a warrant by agents of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. (Suppression Hr'g Tr., June 24, 2009, Gov't Ex. G-1.) Defendant did not limit his express consent to search of his "approved residence" at 319 Harding Boulevard. Rather, Defendant agreed that parole agents could conduct a warrantless search of his "residence," without limitation.

In mid-June of 2007, parole agents received information from two anonymous female sources that Defendant was living with his girlfriend, Terri Lee Jackson ("Jackson"), at 524 E. Basin Street in Norristown rather than at Defendant's approved address, 319 Harding Boulevard. (Suppression Hr'g Tr. 12, June 24, 2009.) The women also reported that Defendant was selling narcotics from the Clubhouse bar in Norristown and from the residence at 524 E. Basin Street. (Id.) The women told the parole agents that Defendant was driving a black SUV, a Kawasaki or a Suzuki motorcycle, and a maroon Buick with chrome rims. (Id. at 13.)

Parole agents followed up on the anonymous report. (Id.) On June 28, 2007, parole agent Harry Gaab ("Agent Gaab") and another agent drove by the Clubhouse bar in a government vehicle and saw Defendant outside leaning against a railing. (Id. at 15.) Agent Gaab made eye contact with Defendant, who "appeared startled and almost scared" and who continued to watch the parole agents in the vehicle. (Id. at 15-16.) In July 2007, Agent Gaab learned that Defendant had been involved in a motorcycle accident. (Id. at 16.) Defendant's involvement in the motorcycle accident was consistent with the information from the anonymous sources that Defendant had a motorcycle.

In August 2007, Defendant was incarcerated on charges that were later withdrawn. (Id. at 19.) Terri Jackson called Agent Gaab to inquire about when Defendant was to be released from prison. (Id.) Jackson, who lives at 524 E. Basin Street, asked Agent Gaab when Defendant "was going to come home." (Id.) Defendant was released from prison on or around September 5, 2007. (Id.) At the end of September 2007, Agent Gaab saw Defendant driving a black Ford Expedition SUV, consistent with the description given by the anonymous sources. (Id. at 20.)

On November 2, 2007, Agent Gaab went to the Clubhouse bar with other parole agents intending to search Defendant for contraband, believing that he had corroborated the information from the anonymous sources. (Id. at 20-22.) When Defendant saw the parole agents, he ran. (Id. at 22.) When parole agents ultimately located Defendant that night he had $1,562 in cash on his person. An operational cell phone, which Defendant was prohibited from having under the terms of his parole, was ten feet away. (Id. at 23.) Agent Gaab also searched Defendant's car and found a love letter from Jackson describing an intimate encounter that had occurred at 4:00 in the morning and stating that she would see Defendant when he got home.*fn1 (Id. at 24-25.) The letter supported the fact that Defendant was residing with Jackson at 524 E. Basin Street, as the sources had reported. (Id. at 25.)

On January 24, 2008, Defendant went to Agent Gaab's office and delivered parole paperwork. (Id. at 26.) Agent Gaab followed Defendant after he left. (Id.) Defendant was driving the black Ford Expedition SUV. (Id.) Agent Gaab saw Defendant drive the SUV to 524 E. Basin Street, back the SUV into the driveway to park, retrieve keys from his pocket, and enter the front door of the residence at 524 E. Basin Street using the keys. (Id.) Agent Gaab knew from his training and experience that "it's common from people who don't want their vehicles to be identified to hide the license tag, which Pennsylvania tags are always in the rear. So all they have to do is back up to a wall, back up to a garage so you can't see the license tag from the street." (Id. at 26-27.) The next morning, Agent Gaab drove by 524 E. Basin Street and saw that Defendant's SUV was parked in the same spot. (Id. at 27.) Agent Gaab also drove by Defendant's place of employment and saw that Defendant's maroon Buick had been replaced with a gold Buick Park Avenue with expensive tires and chrome rims. (Id.) Defendant did not notify the parole officers about the change in vehicle, which the terms of parole required. (Id.)

In February, 2008, Agent Gaab confirmed with an official at the United States Postal Inspection Service that Defendant was receiving mail at 524 E. Basin Street. (Id. at 28.) On March 10, 2008, Agent Gaab made an unscheduled visit to 319 Harding Boulevard, Defendant's approved address. The individual who answered the door told Agent Gaab that Defendant did not live there. (Id. at 29-30.) The individual told Agent Gaab that Defendant lived on Basin Street. (Id. at 30.) Agent Gaab was familiar with the location of Defendant's bedroom at the Harding Street address and he entered the residence and went to Defendant's bedroom. Agent Gaab saw no male clothing, shoes, mail, alarm clock, keys, personal hygiene items, or dirty clothes in Defendant's bedroom. (Id. at 31-32.) Agent Gaab spoke to Defendant after returning to the office, and Defendant told him that he was living at 319 Harding Boulevard. (Id. at 32.)

On March 19, 2008, Agent Gaab saw Defendant enter 524 E. Basin Street using keys from his pocket. (Id. at 33.) On April 7, 2008, Agent Gaab saw Defendant's black Ford Expedition SUV parked in a backed-in position at 524 E. Basin Street between 7:00 or 7:30 in the morning. (Id. at 34.) Agent Gaab returned to 524 E. Basin Street that evening and saw Defendant again take keys from his pocket and enter the residence. (Id. at 35.) Two days later, on April 9, 2008, Agent Gaab again saw Defendant entering the residence at 524 E. Basin Street. (Id. at 37.) ...


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