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United States v. Vue

June 22, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge



Motion to Produce Evidence that the Government Intends to Use Pursuant to Federal Rules of Evidence 404(b) and 609 [doc no. 50]; Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence or, in the Alternative, Hold a Franks Hearing [doc. no. 51]; Defendant's Motion to Suppress Statements [doc. no. 52]; Defendant's Motion to Reveal Identity of Confidential Informant [doc. no. 53]; and Second

Motion to Withdraw as Attorney [doc. no. 68]*fn1

I. Background

The Government brings this case against defendant, charging him with one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. §922 (g). This firearm was seized by the authorities pursuant to a search warrant for the defendant's home issued to Detective Thomas Gault.

The search warrant was issued based upon an affidavit of probable cause prepared by Detective Gault. Doc. no. 61. In the affidavit, the detective explained that within 48 hours a "proven reliable" confidential informant (CI) told the detective that he had observed a sawed-off shotgun with filed-off serial numbers and several other firearms inside defendant's home. Id. The CI also told the detective that defendant had been convicted of firearms violations in the past, specifically for making silencers, and had served time in a federal penitentiary for doing so. Id. The CI also informed the detective that defendant bragged about making explosives and talked about starting a marijuana grow house. Id. The CI reported that he had seen equipment used for growing marijuana in the house. Id. The detective indicated the CI was knowledgeable of firearms and controlled substances from past possession or use. Id. He further indicated that the CI was reliable because he had provided information within the past several months that led to the arrest of four separate individuals and the seizure of drugs and a firearm. Id.

The information provided by the CI was confirmed by the detective. Id. For example, the detective confirmed defendant had been incarcerated in a federal penitentiary and also confirmed, by personal observation, that defendant resided at the place where the CI had seen the firearms.*fn2 Id.

As a result, the detective clearly understood that defendant was prohibited from possessing any firearms. Id.

After the search warrant was executed, police officers confiscated various items including ammunition, several firearms and equipment used to grow plants. Defendant and two other individuals were arrested at that time. On February 13, 2009, defendant appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Lenihan, an unsecured appearance bond was set, and defendant was released but was restricted to travel within Western District of Pennsylvania and placed on home detention. Doc. nos. 9-11. The arraignment, originally scheduled for February 18, 2009, was continued to March 20, 2009, at the request of defendant's counsel*fn3 because defendant had checked into an in-patient rehabilitation facility. Doc. no. 14. On March 4, 2009, the probation officer filed a petition indicating that defendant had not cooperated while at the rehabilitation facility and was discharged by the facility on March 3, 2009. Doc. nos. 16, 18. Defendant failed to report to his probation officer and failed to return home to be placed on home detention under electronic surveillance. Id. Finding that defendant had absconded, this Court issued a warrant for his arrest on March 6, 2009. Doc. no. 17.

Defendant was missing for nearly two months and when he was finally apprehended in Pittsburgh, he was wearing a wristband from a hospital in Detroit, Michigan with his brother's name -- not his own -- on it. See doc. no. 63, pp. 2-3. While being transported to the United States Courthouse, defendant told the Deputy United States Marshal that the fugitive task force officers had not given him sufficient time to get his "AK" (meaning his AK-47) and said that he has "guns all over the place." Id. After appearing before United States Magistrate Judge Mitchell on May 11, 2009 (doc. no. 25), this Court held a bond revocation hearing on May 21, 2009, and ordered that defendant be detained until trial, and remanded defendant into federal custody. Doc. nos. 20-22.

II. Defense Counsel's Nine Motions for Extension of Time

On June 25, 2009, this Court granted defense counsel their first extension of time "to complete the investigation of the facts and law" concerning this matter. Doc. no. 29, ¶3. After this first continuance was granted, defendant's counsel requested, and this Court granted, seven additional extensions "to complete the investigation of the facts and law". Doc. nos. 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, and 43, all at ¶3.

On June 10, 2010, when Defendant's counsel made their ninth request for an extension of time to complete the investigation, this Court denied the request. Notably, defendant had been ...

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