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Usa v. Phuong Le

March 11, 2011

USA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PHUONG LE,
DEFENDANT.



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

March 2011

Currently pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Suppress (Doc. 31) and the Government's Response in Opposition thereto (Doc. 34). For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies Defendant's motion.

I. Background

On November 10, 2009, defendant Phuong Le was charged by a federal grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in an indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit robbery that interferes with interstate commerce in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a), two counts of robbery that interferes with interstate commerce in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a), two counts of using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), and aiding and abetting in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2.*fn1

The alleged facts giving rise to Defendant's indictment are as follows.

A. August 20, 2009 Robbery of Dalia's Grocery Store

On August 20, 2009, at approximately 1:15 a.m., defendants My Nguyen and Phuong Le walked into Dalia's Grocery store located at 1033 S. 8th Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Working at the store were Je. O. (victim #1), and Ja. O. (victim #2). Nguyen pulled out a gun and both Nguyen and Le demanded money from Je. O. When she would not give them any money, Nguyen fired the gun into the wall. Nguyen then jumped over the counter, and both Nguyen and Le pushed the buttons on the cash register to attempt to open it. After they could not get the register open, Nguyen grabbed about ten packs of cigarettes (worth approximately $60). Nguyen threw the cigarettes to Le, and both of them fled. Nguyen was positively identified in a photo line-up by both employees as the one who shot the gun and jumped the counter.

B. August 20, 2009 Robbery of 7-Eleven

Later that morning at approximately 3:15 a.m., the defendants entered the 7-Eleven located at 2101 S. 10th Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Two employees were working in the store. Nguyen approached D.K. (victim #3), the cashier, and placed a drink on the counter. Nguyen then pulled out a gun and demanded money. D.K. thought that Nguyen was joking, and reached for a stick, and then started making a call on his cell phone. At that point, Nguyen fired a shot into the wall. At the same time, another 7-Eleven employee named K.S. (victim #4) was sweeping the floor by the cashier. Nguyen also pointed the firearm at K.S., and both Nguyen and Le ordered the employees around. With D.K. crouching on the ground after the shot was fired, Le and Nguyen ordered D.K. to open the register, telling D.K. that if he did not, Nguyen would shoot him. D.K. placed approximately $100 into a plastic bag. The defendants took the money and fled the store. The defendants were caught on surveillance video robbing the store.

C. The Search of 2433 8th Street

On August 22, 2009, Philadelphia Police Detectives executed a search and seizurewarrant at 2433 8th Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Nguyen was staying. They found Nguyen and Le in addition to the clothing worn during the robberies, 2 unopened packs of Newport cigarettes, and a black Arminius Titan Tiger .38 caliber handgun loaded with six hollow point bullets.

D. Defendant's Waiver of His Miranda Rights

Le and Nguyen were then arrested and taken to the South Detective Division Police Station, where they were interviewed by Detectives Anthony Vega and Eric Johnson of the Philadelphia Police Department. Prior to the interviews, both Nguyen and Le were provided with written Miranda warnings. After reviewing these warnings with the defendants, the detectives then confirmed that the defendants wanted to waive their rights. The detectives then had the defendants execute written waivers to their rights. Prior to beginning their questioning, the detectives also confirmed in writing that the defendants could read, write and understand the English language, and were not ...


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