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United States v. King

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 22, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
TYESHON KING

          RULING ON MOTIONS TO SUPPRESS

          Janet Bond Arterton, U.S.D.J.

         Defendant Tyeshon King is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition by a prohibited person in violation of 18 USC § 922(g) (1). Mr. King moves to suppress all evidence seized at 180 Houston Avenue, Bridgeport, CT, pursuant to the warrant of March 23, 2017, and any data retrieved from cell phones searched pursuant to the warrant of May 21, 2018. For the following reasons, Mr. King's motions are denied.

         I. Background

         On March 23, 2017, the government applied for and was granted a warrant to search 180 Houston Avenue, Bridgeport, CT, ("180 Houston") as part of an ongoing investigation into a drug trafficking organization operating in the area. (Ex. A (Warrant) to Def.'s Mot. to Suppress [Doc. # 54] at 1, 3-4.) Defendant Tyeshon King was not the subject of that warrant; instead, the government sought evidence related to the activities of Defendant King's twin brother, Tyevhon King. (Id. at 4.)

         Special Agent Meghan B. King of the Federal Bureau of Investigation submitted an affidavit in support of that warrant application. (Ex. B (Aff. Supp. Warrant App.) to Def.'s Mot. to Suppress [Doc. # 54].) Special Agent King detailed her qualifications and experience, which includes participating in numerous criminal investigations into suspected narcotics trafficking, coordinating controlled purchases of narcotics using confidential informants, and leading investigations into complex narcotics trafficking organizations. (Id. ¶ 2.) She explained that she is familiar with all aspects of this investigation and that she did not include in the affidavit every fact known to her concerning the investigation. (Id. ¶¶ 7-8.)

         Special Agent King provided background information about the ongoing investigation into the drug trafficking organization of which Tyevhon King was reportedly a member, (Id. ¶¶ 3, 9), including information about several earlier seizures of cash, heroin, and heroin packaging materials linked to that organization. (Id. ¶¶ 11-13.)

         During that investigation, the FBI developed a relationship with a confidential informant who agreed to work with the FBI in exchange for consideration at sentencing on pending narcotics charges and who was "capable of purchasing substantial quantities of heroin at the FBI's direction." (Id. ¶ 15.) Between September 2016 and January 2017, that confidential informant conducted "approximately a half-dozen controlled purchases," all of which were "negotiated with and at" Tyevhon King's direction and during "most" of which Tyevhon "personally delivered the heroin." (Id. ¶¶ 16-20.) "[A]t least one" of those purchases occurred in part at 180 Houston, where the confidential informant met and briefly conversed with Tyevhon King, who directed the confidential informant to an alternate location to acquire the heroin and whom the confidential informant paid in prerecorded funds upon his return to 180 Houston. (Id. ¶ 24). Special Agent King explained that that multi-stage sale method "provides an exemplar of how [Tyevhon King] structures heroin deals," and that, in her training and expertise, such a method is used to provide an "increased measure of operational security." (Id. ¶ 25.)

         Special Agent King also attested that Tyevhon King was "known to reside" at 180 Houston, though she did not provide detail as to the specific source of her knowledge. (Id. ¶ 22.) Finally, Special Agent King noted that Tyevhon King was indicted on March 16, 2017, by a federal Grand Jury on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, and that an arrest warrant had been issued. (Id. ¶ 5.)

         On March 24, 2017, that search warrant was executed at 180 Houston by members of the FBI Safe Streets Violent Crime Task Force, assisted by the Bridgeport Police Tactical Narcotics Team and the Connecticut State Police Gang Unit and Narcotics Unit. (Ex. C (Investigation Report) to Def.'s Mot. to Suppress [Doc. # 54] at 1.) During that search, Tyeshon King, the sole defendant in this case, was found by officers in the basement of the residence at 180 Houston in a room which had been converted into a bedroom. (Id.) At that time, he was patted down for weapons and taken upstairs while officers searched the residence. (Id.) Evidence seized from the basement of the residence during that search includes two firearms, ammunition, one digital scale, and plastic bags. (Id.) Defendant moves to suppress all fruits of the March 24, 2017, search as a violation of his rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution [Doc. # 38].

         Several mobile telephones were also seized during the pat-downs of Defendant King and his brother Tyevhon and the search of the residence. Those telephones were "comingled" by officers at the scene, and it is unclear from whom and exactly where in the residence each phone was seized. (Govt.'s Opp. to Def.'s Mot. [Doc. # 56] at 28.) Although the warrant of March 23, 2017, permitted seizure of "mobile telephones" and a variety of information stored on those telephones (Ex. A at 5), the government obtained a supplemental warrant authorizing forensic examination of those telephones "out of an abundance of caution." (Govt.'s Opp. at 29.) That supplemental warrant was requested and issued on May 21, 2018. (Ex. D (Warrant) to Def.'s Mot. to Suppress [Doc. # 54] at 1, 5). Although the government has represented that it does not intend to use any material derived from Mr. King's mobile telephone in its case-in-chief (Govt.'s Opp. at 29), Mr.

         King has moved to suppress any evidence recovered in the search authorized by the warrant of May 21, 2018, as stale and in violation of his rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. [Doc. # 52.]

         II. Discussion

         A. Search of 180 Houston Avenue

         Defendant contends that the search conducted pursuant to the March 23, 2017, warrant violated his Fourth Amendment rights because the affidavit supporting the government's warrant application did not support a finding of probable cause and because the good faith exception to the valid warrant requirement does not apply here. He therefore argues that all evidence seized from the house at 180 Houston Avenue pursuant to that warrant must be suppressed. (Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. to Suppress [Doc # 39].)

         1. Defendant's ...


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