United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING RE: MOTION TO SUPPRESS (DOC. NO. 38), AMENDED
MOTION TO SUPPRESS AND SUPPORTING AFFIDAVIT (DOC. NO. 53),
AND SUPPLEMENTAL MOTION IN SUPPORT OF ORAL ARGUMENT UNDER
FRANKS V. DELAWARE (DOC. NO. 54).
C. HALL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the court is defendant Jonathan Rivera's Motion to
Suppress (“Mot. Suppress”) (Doc. No. 38), Amended
Motion to Suppress (“Am. Mot. Suppress”) (Doc.
No. 53), and Supplemental Motion in Support of Oral Argument
(“Suppl. Mot. Oral Arg.”) (Doc. No. 54). Rivera
seeks the suppression of “all evidence seized as a
result of the execution of the tainted search warrant for the
3rd floor apartment at 120-122 Fairfield Avenue. Am. Mot.
Suppress at 9. Rivera argues that a search warrant obtained
by law enforcement was tainted by illegal police action that
occurred prior to the issuance of the search warrant.
Id. at 4. In addition, Rivera requests that the
court hold a hearing to determine whether the evidence seized
pursuant to the search should be suppressed pursuant to
Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154 (1978). The court
held oral argument on June 12, 2019.
reasons stated below, Rivera's Motion to Suppress (Doc.
No. 38) is terminated as moot, Rivera's Amended Motion to
Suppress (Doc. No. 53) is denied, and Rivera's
Supplemental Motion in Support of Oral Argument (Doc. No. 54)
court finds the following facts. Between November and
December 2018, a registered confidential informant
(“CI”) contacted Hartford Police Department
detectives Abhilash Pillai (“Pillai”) and Jeffrey
Moody (“Moody”). See Affidavit and
Application for Search and Seizure Warrant
(“Affidavit”) (Doc. No. 46-1) at 3. The CI
informed detectives that he/she was aware of drug trafficking
occurring in the area of Roxbury Street and Fairfield Avenue,
in Hartford, Connecticut. Id. The CI stated that
he/she had seen a Hispanic male using two vehicles: a white
Toyota Rav 4 and a black Infiniti sedan. The CI reported that
the Hispanic male was selling large quantities of crack
cocaine and heroin in the area. Id.
December 5, 2018, Pillai and Moody, along with other law
enforcement officers, conducted surveillance in the area of
Newbury Street, Mapleton Street, Fairfield Avenue, and
Roxbury Street. Id. Pillai observed a white Toyota
Rav 4 parked in the driveway of 120-122 Fairfield Avenue.
Based on the CI's statements, Pillai conducted
surveillance on the Toyota Rav 4. Id. Pillai later
observed a Hispanic male leave 122 Fairfield Avenue, enter
the Toyota, and drive east on Roxbury Street and south on
Newbury Street. Id. at 4. The Toyota came to a stop
on McKinley street, after which a surveillance unit observed
the driver of a blue Hyundai Sonata exit his vehicle,
approach the Toyota, reach into the Toyota, and then place an
unknown object in his sweatshirt pocket. Id.
Officers followed the Hyundai and observed the driver commit
a traffic violation. Id. Uniformed officers
conducted a motor vehicle stop on the Hyundai. Id.
Officers also conducted an investigative stop of the Toyota.
officers asked whether he was in possession of anything
illegal, the driver of the Hyundai stated that he was in
possession of illegal drugs. Id. at 5. The driver
turned over a clear plastic bag filled with wax paper
sleeves, some of which sleeves were stamped with a
“Gatorade” symbol. Id. The sleeves
contained a white substance and white rock-like substance.
Id. The white, powdery substance tested positive for
fentanyl, and the rock-like substance tested positive for
cocaine. Id. After being informed of and
acknowledging his Miranda rights, the driver of the
Hyundai told officers that he had purchased the substances
from “a guy in a white SUV on McKinley street.”
conducting the motor-vehicle stop on the Toyota, officers
placed the driver, Rivera, under arrest for sale of
narcotics. Id. After arriving on scene, Pillai
informed Rivera of his Miranda rights, which rights
Rivera waived. Id. Upon questioning as to his
residence, Rivera informed Pillai he did not live at 122
Fairfield Avenue, and that the address was his
“girl's” residence. Id. When asked
if there was anything illegal at 122 Fairfield Avenue, Rivera
replied that a firearm was stored there, but that he had a
permit for the firearm. Id. Rivera told officers a
few minutes later that the firearm was actually stored in his
vehicle, an Infiniti parked at 120-122 Fairfield Avenue.
See Government's Supplemental Memorandum of Law
in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Suppress
(“Govt. Suppl. Mem. in Opp.”) (Doc. No. 56) at 2.
Pillai informed Rivera that officers had witnessed him
conduct a suspected hand-to-hand drug transaction on McKinley
street, to which Rivera replied that he was just trying to
make some extra money. Affidavit at 5. Rivera also stated
that he knew he made a mistake by selling drugs. Rivera
repeated that he did not live at the Fairfield Avenue
address, told officers that he did not have keys to the
address, and stated that his “girl” lived in the
third-floor apartment along with her children. Id.
travelled to 120-122 Fairfield avenue. Id. at 6.
Using keys recovered from the Toyota, they opened the locked
south entryway door to 120-122 Fairfield Avenue. Id.
Officers proceeded up a staircase to the second floor and
knocked on the door to the second-floor apartment.
Id. Officers spoke with an elderly Hispanic woman
who stated that she lived in the second-floor apartment, and
that her granddaughter resided on the third floor with her
children and her boyfriend. Id. Officers approached
a second interior door, and used a key recovered from the
Toyota to open the door. Id. Upon proceeding up the
staircase to the third-floor, officers realized that the
interior second-floor door led directly into the third-floor
apartment. Id. at 6-7. Officers announced their
presence, after which a woman, identified as Melissa Diaz,
called out that she was naked in a bedroom. Id. at
7. After Diaz dressed herself, officers conducted a
protective sweep of the apartment. Id. Adult male
clothing was seen in the bedroom where Diaz had been located.
Pillai and Moody arrived at the third-floor apartment, Pillai
informed Diaz of her Miranda rights, which she
acknowledged. Id. Diaz declined to consent to a
search and informed the detectives that she wished to speak
to her attorney. Id. Pillai and Moody returned to
the Vice and Narcotics Office to draft a search warrant
affidavit, while other officers remained on scene to secure
the apartment. Id.
government argues in its Memorandum in Opposition to the
Motion to Suppress (“Mem. Opp. Suppress”) (Doc.
No. 46), that Rivera has failed to establish standing to
challenge the search of 120-122 Fairfield Avenue.
See Mem. Opp. Suppress at 7-8. The government argues
that Rivera denied living at the Fairfield Avenue address and
instead stated that his girlfriend lived there. See
id. at 7. The government also argues that, when officers
spoke to Melissa Diaz, the “owner-occupant of the of
the third[-]floor apartment, ” she told law enforcement
that Rivera did not live in the apartment. Id.
Rivera filed an Amended Motion to Suppress on June 7, 2019.
See Am. Mot. Suppress. Attached to the Amended
Motion to Suppress, which is in all other material respects
identical to the original Motion to Suppress, is an Affidavit
swearing that, “[a]t or around December 5, 2018, [he]
was a resident of the 3rd floor apartment of 120-122
Fairfield Avenue in Harford CT . . . .” See
Affidavit of Jonathan Rivera (“Rivera Affid.”)
(Doc. No. 53-1) ¶ 1. Given Rivera's sworn statement,
the court concludes he has standing to challenge a search of
the third-floor apartment. Moreover, because the ...