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State v. Rodriguez

Appellate Court of Connecticut

February 23, 2016

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
CARMELITO RODRIGUEZ

         Argued September 25, 2015.

Page 741

          Substitute information charging the defendant with four counts of the crime of possession of narcotics with intent to sell by a person who is not drug-dependent, and with the crime of possession of narcotics with intent to sell within 1500 feet of an elementary school, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Fairfield, where the court, Kahn, J., denied the defendant's motion to suppress certain evidence; thereafter, the defendant was presented to the court, Devlin, J., on a conditional plea of nolo contendere to two counts of possession of narcotics with intent to sell; subsequently, the state entered a nolle prosequi as to the remaining charges; judgment of guilty in accordance with the plea, from which the defendant appealed to this court.

          SYLLABUS

         Convicted, on conditional pleas of nolo contendere to two counts of possession of a narcotic substance with intent to sell, the defendant appealed to this court, claiming that the trial court had improperly denied his motion to suppress evidence found at his residence pursuant to a search warrant. In the affidavit accompanying the application for the search warrant, an officer affirmed that an informant in police custody, who had been arrested with two other suspects for possession of heroin, stated that an individual living in the second floor apartment at the defendant's address was supplying drug dealers with large amounts of heroin, that this individual possessed heroin in the basement of that address, and that the informant had observed this individual packaging heroin on numerous occasions. The officer also affirmed that the informant stated he had been in the apartment within the past two days, and that the informant had given a physical description of this individual. After securing the search warrant, the police entered and seized, inter alia, a large quantity of illegal narcotics and arrested the defendant. The defendant entered conditional pleas of nolo contendere after the trial court had denied his motion to suppress the evidence obtained as a result of the search. The defendant appealed to this court claiming that the affidavit in support of the search warrant application did not provide probable cause for the issuance of the warrant. Held that the trial court did not err in denying the defendant's motion to suppress the evidence seized from his residence during the execution of the search warrant, as the judge who issued the warrant reasonably could have concluded that the facts recited in the affidavit and the reasonable inferences drawn therefrom contained probable cause for the issuance of the warrant: the affidavit supported a finding of probable cause because the identity of the informant was known to police, the informant gave a statement against his penal interest, the informant's information was sufficiently detailed and contained a physical description of the defendant, and the informant's statement was independently corroborated by the police, who had observed one of the other suspects arrested with the informant enter and leave the defendant's residence two days prior to the search; moreover, contrary to the defendant's argument, the informant's recitation of the frequent visits to the defendant's heroin packaging facility, including a visit two days prior to being arrested while in possession of a large quantity of heroin, was contrary to the informant's penal interest.

         G. Douglas Nash, for the appellant (defendant).

         Aimee Lynn Mahon, certified legal intern, with whom were Nancy L. Chupak, senior assistant state's attorney, and, on the brief, John C. Smriga, state's attorney, and C. Robert Satti, Jr., supervisory assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

         Beach, Prescott and Bear, Js. BEACH, J. In this opinion the other judges concurred.

          OPINION

Page 742

         [163 Conn.App. 263] BEACH, J.

         The defendant, Carmelito Rodriguez, appeals from the judgment of conviction rendered following a conditional plea of nolo contendere[1] to two [163 Conn.App. 264] counts of possession of a narcotic substance with intent to sell in violation of General Statutes § 21a-278 (b).[2] The defendant claims that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress certain evidence seized from his residence, on the ground that the affidavit in support of the search warrant did not provide probable cause for the issuance of the warrant. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The record reveals the following facts. On September 21, 2012, three individuals were arrested in Bridgeport for possession of a large quantity of heroin. One of the arrested individuals provided information to Bridgeport law enforcement officers about a mid-level drug supplier and provided details about that supplier's heroin sales at 144 Cedar Street in Bridgeport, which residence was owned by a third party. Relying primarily on information provided by the informant, police officers applied for a search warrant and averred in the accompanying affidavit: ''That on 09/21/2012, members of the Bridgeport Police Departments Tactical Narcotics Team . . . along with members from the FBI Task Force, arrested three individuals in the City of Bridgeport. That the three arrested suspects were found in possession of a large quantity of heroin at the time of their arrests. . . . That one of the arrested suspects cooperated with officers, giving us details of a mid level supplier of heroin in the City of Bridgeport. This arrested suspect stated a male known to him as 'Milo' is supplying numerous drug dealers in Bridgeport with large amounts of heroin. He/she stated that 'Milo' resides on the second [floor] apartment of 144 Cedar Street in Bridgeport. . . . That this arrested suspect [163 Conn.App. 265] stated that he/she has been in 'Milo's' apartment more than a dozen times in the past month. That he/she has observed 'Milo' package the heroin on the table in the basement on numerous occasions during these times. He/She added that 'Milo' stores several firearms in the residence, basement and second floor apartment. That a safe is kept in the basement where 'Milo' keeps his heroin and that money from drug sales are kept in his apartment. . . . That this arrested suspect stated he/she has been in 'Milo's' apartment and basement within the past two days and observed 'Milo' in possession of a large amount of heroin. That this arrested suspect described 'Milo' as a Hispanic male in his late thirties, approximately six feet tall, medium skin and a

Page 743

stocky build. 'Milo' is also described as having tattoos [on] both arms. . . . That during the past week, members of the FBI Task Force and members of the Bridgeport Police Tactical Narcotics Team conducted a Narcotics Investigation which led . . . to the arrest of the three arrested suspects on today's date. That during this investigation, Task Force member Officer Daid Reihl observed one of the arrested suspects entering and leaving 144 Cedar Street within the last two days." The next paragraph of the affidavit recited ...


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