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United States of America v. Curtis Veasley

August 8, 2012

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
CURTIS VEASLEY, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF COURT

Pending before the Court is DEFENDANT CURTIS VEASLEY'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE UNDER FRANKS V. DELAWARE WITH CITATION OF AUTHORITY. (Document No. 21) ("Def.'s Mot."). The government has filed a response in opposition (Document No. 22) ("Gov't Resp."), to which Defendant has filed a reply (Document No. 28) ("Def.'s Reply"). On July 24, 2012, the Court conducted a suppression hearing pursuant to Franks, and heard oral argument from counsel. The motion is ripe for disposition.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The facts of the underlying charges and investigation of Defendant Veasley are outlined as follows.

A. April 2, 2010 Controlled Buy

On April 2, 2010, at 1:30 PM, a drug task force which consisted of officers from the Tarentum Police Department met to formulate a plan to make a controlled purchase of heroin from an identified target individual. At around 3:00 PM, when that particular plan became unaccomplished, the police decided to move on to another target, and conducted a controlled buy of heroin at the residence of Defendant Curtis Veasley ("Veasley"). Prior to the buy, Sergeant Marsha Cole*fn1 , an undercover officer ("UCO") with the City of Arnold police department, met with Tarentum police officers and a confidential informant ("CI") at the Tarentum Police Department. The CI was searched by police, and was found to not have any drugs or contraband on his person. Subsequently, followed by surveillance, the UCO drove with the CI to pick up an unwitting third party who had agreed to introduce the CI to Veasley. Upon arriving at Veasley's residence, 590 E. 7th Ave. in Tarentum, PA, the UCO was informed that she would not be able to enter the Veasley residence with the CI and the third party. The UCO supplied the CI with $300.00 in official funds in order to make the controlled buy, and the CI and the third party knocked on the door of the residence while the UCO waited in the car. Veasley answered the door, and the CI and the third party entered the home. Shortly thereafter, the CI and the third party exited the residence and got back into the car with the UCO. At this time, the CI counted out 33 stamp bags of heroin and handed them to the UCO. The UCO and the CI dropped off the unwitting third party, and returned to the Tarentum Police Department, where the suspected heroin was tested positive for opiates. The CI was searched again, and no contraband or money was found on his person.

Sergeants Cole and Ryan Hanford each completed a criminal investigative report detailing the controlled buy on April 2, 2010. Sergeant Hanford's report provides more detail with respect to the events leading up to the actual buy. It is noted that the report indicates that officers and the CI originally met at 1:30 PM, and attempted to conduct a controlled buy from another target. The deal with the initially-intended target did not come to fruition, and at approximately 3:00 PM, the CI indicated that he knew the above-referenced unwitting third party who would be able to introduce the CI to Veasley. Sergeant Hanford's report differs from that of Sergeant Cole in that his report indicates that the CI and the third party were inside Veasley's residence for approximately ten minutes, while Sergeant Cole's report indicates that that the CI and the third party were inside the home for only a minute or so.

A state criminal complaint was later filed regarding this transaction. The affidavit of probable cause submitted in support of the state criminal complaint was completed by Sergeant James Newcomer,*fn2 and sets forth the following series of events:

1) Task force officers and the CI initially met on April 2, 2010 at 1:30 PM to formulate the plan for the controlled buy of heroin from Veasley.

2) The CI and the vehicle to be used in the buy were searched, and no money or contraband was found.

3) A J-Net photo of Veasley was provided to the UCO and the CI, and the CI identified the man in the photo as Veasley.

4) The CI placed a phone call to Veasley and arranged for the CI to purchase $300.00 worth of heroin at Veasley's residence.

5) Upon arriving at Veasley's residence, the CI exited the vehicle and walked onto the front porch of Veasley's residence.

6) Veasley answered the door, and both he and the CI walked into the residence.

7) A few moments later, the CI exited the residence and got back into the vehicle with the UCO.

8) Subsequently, the UCO turned over 33 stamp bags of suspected heroin to Sergeant Newcomer.

9) A field test of the substance was conducted, and the substance tested positive for ...


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