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United States v. Green

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

March 29, 2018



          SURRICK, J.

         Presently before the Court are Defendants' Motions for a Franks Hearing and to Suppress Physical Evidence and Statements. (ECF Nos. 38, 39.) For the following reasons, Defendants' Motions will be DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On December 20, 2017, a grand jury returned an Indictment charging Defendants Richard Winn and Ameen Green a/k/a "Shooter" with possession with intent to distribute, and aiding and abetting the possession with intent to distribute, crack cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B), (b)(1)(C), and 18 U.S.C. § 2. (Indictment, ECF No. 1.) Defendants are also charged with possessing, and aiding and abetting the possession of, a Taurus International 9mm semi-automatic pistol, in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2 and 924(c)(1). (Id.) In addition, each defendant is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). (Id.) Winn and Green now move to suppress all evidence seized at 1208 West Venango Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pursuant to a search warrant issued by a state magistrate. Defendants have also moved for a Franks hearing, contending that the officer whose affidavit upon which the warrant application was based deliberately, or with reckless disregard for the truth, omitted information from the affidavit that created a falsehood material to the finding of probable cause. Defendants further move to suppress the physical evidence seized at 1208 West Venango, arguing that the information supporting the warrant was stale. Defendant Green also moves to suppress statements that he made after the search and seizure at 1208 West Venango.

         A. Factual Background

         On September 14, 2017, Philadelphia Police Detective John McNamee filed an affidavit of probable cause in support of a search and seizure warrant. (Winn Mot., Ex. 1., ECF No. 39.) The affidavit describes a series of events that led Detective McNamee to believe that a gun used to commit a murder, clothing worn by the suspected murderer, and evidence of a related drug dealing operation, would be found at 1208 West Venango.

         The affidavit provided that on Thursday, September 7, 2017, a 38-year-old white male was shot in the head at 1512 Melon Street in Philadelphia, and that he subsequently died from the gunshot wounds. (Id.) Surveillance footage recovered during the course of the shooting investigation revealed that two black men were the apparent killers. (Id.) Black male #1 approached the victim as he exited his car while black male #2 trailed close behind. (Id.) Black male #1 then pointed a handgun at the victim, took his personal property, and led the victim away from his car and shot him twice. (Id., )

         In the footage, black male #1 can be seen wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt with a white stripe down the sleeves, light-colored pants, and tan and black sneakers with white stripes. (Id.) Black male #2 can be seen wearing a dark-hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans, and black sneakers with white trim. (Id.)

         The affidavit provided that police investigation, including physical evidence collection, interviews, and identifications by both police and civilian witnesses, led to black male #1 being identified as Marvin Roberts, and black male #2 being identified as his brother, Maurice Roberts. (Id.)

         According to the affidavit, Marvin Roberts was located by police on the morning of September 9, 2017, while he was walking eastbound on Venango Street between Broad Street and 13th Street. (Id.) Marvin was taken into custody, advised of his Miranda rights, and then interviewed by police. (Id.)

         The affidavit contains Detective McNamee's summary of Marvin Roberts's interview. (Id.) Marvin admitted to robbing and shooting the victim. (Id.) Roberts obtained the gun used in the shooting "from a male that sells drugs in the area of his arrest, " and that "one of the drug dealers is named 'Relleo.'" (Id.) Detective McNamee noted that no one named Relleo had been identified during the course of the investigation. (Id.) While being interviewed, Marvin's cell phone received several incoming calls from a number listed in the phone's contacts as "Deuce, " who Marvin said was an associate of his. (Id.)

         Maurice Roberts was arrested in Mt. Olive, New Jersey on September 9, 2017, and after being advised of his Miranda rights he was interviewed at the Mt. Olive police station. (Id.) The affidavit provides Detective McNamee's summary of Maurice's interview. (Id.) Maurice admitted to his participation in the robbery and shooting, and also admitted that his brother was the shooter. (Id.) He told the police that his brother worked as a drug dealer for a man known as Deuce and another man known as Shooter. (Id.) The affidavit states that that Maurice "is aware that the gun used in the murder was provided by either Deuce or Shooter because he is aware that they both carry guns and use them" in the course of selling drugs. (Id.) Maurice also stated that "the weapon used in the murder was returned to either Deuce or Shooter after the murder occurred." (Id.)

         On September 14, 2017, Maurice Roberts was extradited to Philadelphia and arraigned. (Id.) Maurice then requested to speak with detectives, was brought to the Homicide Unit, advised again of his Miranda rights, and submitted to an interview. (Id.) Detective McNamee, summarizing this interview, states in the affidavit that Maurice said "he is aware of a house used by two drug dealer [sic] named Deuce and Shooter, " and that "he knows that Deuce and Shooter used the house that he described as a 'trap house' to sell drugs from, store drugs and hide and store guns." (Id.) Maurice stated that he had been in the house as recently as two weeks prior to the interview, and that he had recently seen both drugs and guns in the house. (Id.) Maurice also said that he has previously seen Marvin inside of that house and that Marvin has access to the house. (Id.)

         Maurice described the trap house as a brick house with a white door located near 12th or 13th Street and Venango, and said that the house is located on Venango Street. (Id.) The detectives showed Maurice street view maps of the 1200 block of West Venango Street, and Maurice identified 1208 West Venango Street as the trap house he had described.

         The affidavit concludes with Detective McNamee stating that it is his belief that Marvin Roberts had been in 1208 West Venango Street in the days after the murder and was traveling to that location when he was stopped and taken into custody on September 9, 2017. (Id.) He declared his belief that 1208 West Venango would contain illegal narcotics, guns, weapons, and the clothing and personal effects of Marvin Roberts, and that he was applying for a warrant to lawfully collect those items for use in the investigation into the robbery and shooting on September 7, 2017. (Id.)

         On September 14, 2017, based on this affidavit, the magistrate issued a warrant to search 1208 West Venango. (Gov't Resp. 9, ECF No. 43.) The warrant was executed the next day on September 15, 2017. (Id.) After a knock and announce with no reply, Philadelphia Police Officers and Homicide Detectives breached the door and found Richard Winn in the living room and Ameen Green in the upstairs middle bedroom of the house. (Id.) A search of the house led the police to find a large amount of drugs and drug paraphernalia sitting out in the open in the main living area, kitchen, and bedrooms. (Id.) Officers seized plastic bags containing heroin, crack cocaine, and synthetic marijuana. (Winn Mot. Ex. 2.) Many of the drugs were packaged for distribution in small packets with glassine inserts. (Id.) Officers also seized three digital scales, eight cell phones, branded zip lock bags, boxes of branded glassine inserts and rubber bands, along with "glass plate bulk crystal meth." (Id.) Over $1, 300 of United States Currency was also seized, as well as a key to the front door of the property with a red name tag bearing the inscription "RICHARD." (Id.) Finally, the police also seized a black Taurus Model PT709 9mm handgun containing a magazine loaded with six live rounds, a silver and black Smith & Wesson Model SW9VE 9mm handgun with a magazine, and a clear plastic bag containing eight live 9mm rounds. (Id.)

         B. Procedural Background

         Defendant Green filed an Omnibus Motion arguing for the suppression of physical evidence and statements on March 6, 2018. (Green Mot. ECF No. 38.) Defendant Winn filed a Motion for a Franks Hearing and a Motion to Suppress Evidence on March 10, 2018. (Winn Mot.) The Government filed a Response to both Motions on March 15, 2018. (Gov't Resp.) On March 19, 2018, a hearing was held on the Motions. (Mar. 19 Hr'g Tr. (on file with Court).) At the hearing, Green's Motion for Joinder in Winn's Motion was granted.


         A. Standing

         Addressing first the issue of Fourth Amendment standing, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits "unreasonable searches and seizures." U.S. Const, amend. IV. In order to assure this guarantee, evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment may be excluded at trial. United States v. Calandra,414 U.S. 338, 347 (1974). However, a defendant may only get the benefit of the Fourth Amendment's exclusionary rule if the defendant's own Fourth Amendment rights were violated by the challenged search or seizure. United States v. Steam,597 F.3d 540, 551 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing Rakas v. Illinois,439 U.S. 128, 132-34 (1978)). Proponents of a motion to ...

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