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United States v. McKnight

September 10, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ROBERT MCKNIGHT, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Juan R. Sánchez, J.

MEMORANDUM

Defendant Lamont Paige seeks to suppress evidence seized during a warrantless search of his former apartment, arguing the search was conducted in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. Because this Court finds agents were objectively reasonable in believing they had valid third-party consent to obtain entry into the apartment, Paige's motion will be denied.

Findings of Fact

1. On January 20, 2010, two men robbed the Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, branch of TruMark Financial Credit Union.

2. In the course of conducting an investigation of the TruMark robbery, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents formed the belief that the two robbery perpetrators were Defendants Robert McKnight and Lamont Paige.

3. On February 3, 2010, FBI agent Vito Roselli interviewed Paige's former girlfriend, Clivette Walker. Walker told agents she and Paige had formerly lived together in the first floor apartment of 557 Allengrove Street, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

4. Paige and Walker, who both signed the apartment's lease in 2007, had received notice of eviction from their landlord, David Ghauri, dated December 16, 2009. This notice informed Paige and Walker they were being evicted from the apartment for failure to pay rent and they had ten days to leave the apartment. Paige and Walker were several months behind on their rent in December 2009. Neither tenant paid rent for December 2009 or any month thereafter.*fn1 Walker moved out of the apartment on December 20, 2009. She told federal agents she does not know when Paige left the apartment.

5. Sometime before February 3, 2010, Paige left the apartment and began staying at friends' homes in the area. Paige did not intend to return to the apartment at 557 Allengrove Street.

6. Agent Roselli conducted surveillance at 557 Allengrove Street for approximately one week following his interview with Walker. During that time, he drove by the apartment approximately four to five times at different times of the day. He did not observe any lights or movement inside the apartment, or any vehicles which he believed were connected to the apartment's inhabitants.

7. Roselli spoke to the residents who lived upstairs at 557 Allengrove Street. One of these residents, whom Roselli identified as "Miss Boyer," informed him she had not seen anyone in the first floor apartment for several days.

8. Federal agents contacted Ghauri, who agreed to meet Roselli at 557 Allengrove Street. On February 12, 2010, Ghauri met federal agents at the apartment and gave them consent to enter the premises.

9. Ghauri spoke with Roselli and confirmed he was the owner of the residence. Ghauri told Roselli he had been planning to have a cleaning crew remove Paige's leftover belongings.

10. Roselli observed an eviction notice on either the apartment's front door or a front window.

11. Ghauri tried his key in the apartment's front door, but it did not work. The key worked in the lock on the back door, but an item blocked the agents' entry through that door. The agents gained entry through a ...


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