United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Richard Caputo United States District Judge.
before me is Defendant Victor Sawyers'
(“Sawyers” or “Defendant”) Motion for
a Franks Hearing and to Suppress All Physical
Evidence and Statements Pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 12(b)(3)
and the Fourth Amendment. (Doc. 39). In the alternative,
Defendant requests disclosure of the name of the confidential
informant. In support of this motion, Defendant argues the
search warrant lacked probable cause because the Affidavit of
Probable Cause submitted in support of the warrant
application contained misrepresentations and omissions that
were made either intentionally or with reckless disregard.
For the reasons discussed below, the suppression motion and
request for a Franks hearing will be denied and the
request to disclose the name of the informant will be
January 30, 2019, a federal grand jury returned a six-count
Indictment charging Sawyers and Antiqua Cox
(“Cox”) with possession with the intent to
distribute heroin, cocaine base, and fentanyl and conspiracy
for the same, maintaining a drug premises, and several
firearm offenses. Specifically, Sawyers was charged with the
following: Conspiracy to Possess with the Intent to
Distribute Heroin, Cocaine Base and Fentanyl in violation of
21 U.S.C. § 846 (Count One); Possession with the Intent
to Distribute Heroin, Cocaine Base, and Fentanyl in violation
of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) (Count Two); Maintaining a Drug
Premises in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 856(a)(1) (Count
Three); Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of Drug
Trafficking in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (Count
Five); and Felon in Possession of a Firearm in violation of
18 U.S.C. § 922g) (Count Six). (Doc. 1).
16, 2018, Detective Nicholas Ishman applied for a search
warrant for 10 H Hall Manor, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 17104,
which was approved by a magistrate judge that same day. (Doc.
39-1, “Def.'s Ex. A, ” at 2; Doc. 51,
“Gov.'s Ex. 4, ” at 12). In support of the
warrant application, Detective Ishman prepared an Affidavit
of Probable Cause describing his investigation based on a tip
from a confidential informant and subsequent controlled drug
purchase also involving the informant. (Id.). The
Affidavit of Probable Cause reads in pertinent
Within the last two days, the Affiant [Detective Ishman] has
been informed by a Confidential Informant (CI) that there was
to be a male with the nickname of “Menace”
selling drugs from 10 H Hall Manor, Harrisburg PA, 17104.
Menace was identified as Victor Sawyers (11/10/1979). The CI
did agree to go to 10 H Hall Manor, and while under police
surveillance, make a controlled purchase of crack cocaine
from this residence.
While in my presence the CI did dial the number 717-303-4945
and ordered an amount of crack cocaine. The CI was told to
come to the prearranged meeting spot of 10 H Hall Manor. I
searched the CI and the CI's vehicle and found them free
of any drugs, drug paraphernalia or money. I then documented
Dauphin County Funds to be used during this transaction
(Serial Numbers JA02286922B, MG88866042F, MB88645601G,
MD51990904D, MB442747651I, JJ08595396B, MK84704165B) and
provided these funds to the CI. Sgt. Delon Henry did mobilize
to the area to cover the rear of the residence. Det. Jason
Paul and I did mobilize to the area to cover the rear of the
residence. The CI was followed to the area by Det. Dennis
Simmons. While under full police surveillance, the CI exited
their vehicle and walked directly to the front door of 10 H
Hall Manor. The CI entered the residence and within 1-2
minutes exited the residence. The CI reentered their vehicle
and drove from the area while under the surveillance of Det.
Simmons. The CI returned to a secluded area where they
provided Det. Simmons with a corner tie of suspected crack
cocaine. Affiant searched the CI and Det. Simmons searched
the CI's vehicle finding them free of any drugs, drug
paraphernalia or money.
It is the Affiant's experience that person(s) who sell
illegal drugs often keep additional amounts of illegal drugs
in their residences. For this reason Affiant is requesting a
Search Warrant for 10 H Hall Manor, Harrisburg PA, 17104 and
the curtilage around the residence to search for crack
cocaine, drug paraphernalia including sandwich bags, drug
proceeds including the previously stated prerecorded Dauphin
County Funds, cell phone with the number 717-303-4945 and
photos/documentation of residential occupancy.
Affiant is requesting the Search Warrant be sealed for 60
days to protect the identity of the Confidential Informant.
The Confidential informant is involved in other narcotics
(Def. Ex. A at 2).
Ishman also prepared an Initial Crime Report detailing the
arrangement and execution of a controlled drug purchase on
May 14, 2018. (See Doc. 39-2, “Def.'s
Ex. B, ” generally). On May 18, 2018, officers
executed the search warrant and seized a firearm, two
magazines, a sandwich bag with suspected cocaine, a corner
tie of suspected cocaine, sandwich bags with suspected
heroin, two boxes of sandwich bags, a box of latex gloves,
“letters w/ Victor Sawyers[, ]” a bag with a
spoon and plastic cup, a bottle of caffeine, a safe with
ammunition and holsters, a box of glassine bags, three
blenders, and one phone with the assigned phone number
717-303-4945. (Doc. 39-6, “Def.'s Ex. F, ” at
2). Sawyers and Cox were subsequently arrested and charged
with the above-mentioned offenses.
6, 2019, Sawyers filed the instant Motion for a
Franks Hearing and to Suppress All Physical Evidence
and Statements in connection with Rule 12(b)(3) of the
Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Fourth Amendment,
or for disclosure of the name of the confidential informant
in the alternative. (Doc. 39). The motion has been fully
briefed and is ripe for review.
Fourth Amendment protects “[t]he right of the people to
be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,
against unreasonable searches and seizures.” U.S.
Const. amend. IV. The issuing judge must “make a
practical, common-sense decision whether, given all the
circumstances set forth in the affidavit before, . . . there
is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime
will be found in a particular place.” Illinois v.
Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 238, 103 S.Ct. 2317 (1983). A court
reviewing a determination of probable cause may look only to
whether “the magistrate had a substantial basis for
concluding that probable cause existed.” Id.
When called upon to evaluate the supporting affidavit to a
search warrant, a court must view it “in a common sense
and nontechnical ...