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UNITED STATES v. DAVID

June 13, 1983

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
AHRON DAVID, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NICKERSON

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

 NICKERSON, District Judge

 Defendant Ahron David moves to suppress guns, ammunition, money and personal papers seized in his apartment on March 23, 1983, allegedly in violation of his fourth and sixth amendment rights. Prior to the seizure he had been indicted in five counts for violation of the federal drug laws.

 At a hearing the following facts were adduced. At about 3:00 p.m. on March 23, 1983, Special Agent Christopher Giovino of the Drug Enforcement Administration made a phone call to David's apartment. A man with an Israeli accent answered, and Giovino hung up. Before making the call Giovino had asked agents to proceed to David's residence. At about 3:30 p.m. Giovino, his group supervisor, and other agents arrived at David's apartment house at 247 East 28th Street, Manhattan. The doorman told them that David and a female were in his apartment. The agents showed the building superintendent an arrest warrant for David. When there was no response to a buzz to David's apartment, the doorman told the agents that David frequently did not answer his buzzer.

 Giovino, the superintendent, the group supervisor, two or three agents and a state police investigator then went to the door of the apartment. The group supervisor and the investigator put their ears to the door and thought they heard a television set inside. After knocking on the door and receiving no response for three or four minutes the agents were told by the superintendent that David did not always answer the door.

 After they said that they would break the two locks, the superintendent offered to unlock one with his passkey and drill out the other. After this was done, the agents entered, conducted a room to room search, found no one in the apartment, but discovered a sawed off shotgun and a high powered rifle on the bedroom floor and a BB pistol on a living room table. The television set was on at a low volume.

 The group supervisor and the investigator remained in the apartment while some agents moved to the hallway and others went to the front of the building to intercept David should he reenter. After the agents had unsuccessfully searched the vicinity of the building, the doorman told Giovino that David was in a pizzeria across the street. Meanwhile, the officers in the apartment advised Giovino by walkie-talkie that they were detaining David's brother and a female, both of whom had attempted to enter the apartment.

 Agents went to the pizzeria door and motioned to David to step outside. When he did so, the agents identified themselves and told him he was under arrest. Since people had started to congregate near the point of arrest, the agents walked David back to the apartment building and took him upstairs in the elevator. They read him his Miranda rights and told him that a grand jury had indicted him for a narcotics violation, that he should not volunteer any information, and that the agents were bound not to ask him questions pertaining to the charges. David initially declined to go up to his apartment, for which he said they needed a warrant. After Giovino told him that an unidentified female was being detained in his apartment, defendant no longer resisted.

 Upon entering the apartment, David identified his brother and identified the female as a Ms. Van Laere. Suspecting that Van Laere, who had difficulty speaking English, was not a United States citizen, Giovino asked for her identification. When she could not produce an alien registration card, David said her passport was locked in the safe in the bedroom. Giovino then told David that she would be held until identification was provided or until the immigration authorities verified her status. David responded that he would open the safe to get her papers but that he did not wish the agents going into the safe. Giovino asked "Why not?" (Tr. 34). David replied, "Because there is a gun, a lot of money in there and I don't want you seeing it or taking it." Giovino said he would not permit David to put his hand in the safe and pull out whatever he wanted. David did not then open the safe.

 Giovino then telephoned Assistant United States Attorney Mark Summers, who told Giovino that "hopefully within an hour" he would get a search warrant for the premises, particularly the safe. Summers told Giovino to remind David not to volunteer any statements.

 Giovino then told David that a search warrant was being drawn up and that "regardless of how he wanted it" the agents were going to get into the safe when the warrant arrived. David responded that, if they were going to get a warrant, they might as well search the apartment, and that he would open the safe and get Van Laere's papers. Although Giovino feared that David might pull a gun from the safe, he allowed David to open the safe and take a passport from the front of the safe. While David opened the safe, an agent held a gun to David's head. Although David attempted to position himself so that the agents could not see inside the safe, Giovino was able to see a gun butt in the safe. After David handed Giovino the passport, the agents seized from the open safe three guns, ammunition, a large sum of money, and a stack of papers including passports. The agents then searched the rest of the apartment but seized no other items.

 Defendant argues first that all items seized are tainted because the agents lacked either probable cause to believe, or a reasonable belief, that he was in the apartment at the time of the forcible entry. In Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 63 L. Ed. 2d 639, 100 S. Ct. 1371 (1980), the Supreme Court held that absent an arrest warrant, exigent circumstances, or consent, police officers could not constitutionally enter a suspect's home to arrest him. Although the Court noted that the Payton case did not raise the question whether the police had probable cause to believe that the suspect was at home when they entered, id. at 583, the Court stated in dictum that "an arrest warrant founded on probable cause implicitly carries with it the limited authority to enter a dwelling in which the suspect lives when there is reason to believe the suspect is within." Id. at 603 (emphasis added). In United States v. Manley, 632 F.2d 978, 983 (2d Cir. 1980) (execution of arrest warrant on third party's premises), the Second Circuit noted that the standard of reasonable belief that the arrestee will be found in the dwelling "may require less justification than the more familiar probable cause test."

 It does not matter which standard is applied. When they entered, the agents and officers had probable cause to believe that David was in the apartment. Thirty minutes earlier a man with an Israeli accent had answered the phone. The doorman told the agents that David was in his apartment with a female companion and that he frequently did not answer his buzzer. The superintendent told the agents that David did not always answer his door. Finally, the group supervisor and the police investigator heard through the door the sound of what was apparently a television set. Probable cause does not require certainty. Here the agents had "a reasonable, objective basis for belief " that David was inside. United States v. Webb, 623 F.2d 758, 761 (2d Cir. 1980) (emphasis in original). The entry was lawful, and the items in plain view were properly seized.

 Defendant argues that even if the entry was lawful, the agents seized the items from the safe in violation of his sixth and fourth amendment rights. Massiah v. United States, 377 U.S. 201, 12 L. Ed. 2d 246, 84 S. Ct. 1199 (1964), held that the government violated an indicted defendant's sixth amendment right to counsel by deliberately eliciting incriminating information from him in the absence of counsel. This court, in United States v. Praetorius, 457 F. Supp. 329 (E.D.N.Y. 1978), held that the reasoning of the Massiah case applies not only to incriminating statements elicited from indicted defendants but also to consents to search. Incriminating statements and the fruits of searches based on consent are admissible only if the defendant has previously made a valid waiver of his right to counsel. Moreover, the Second Circuit in United States v. Mohabir, 624 F.2d 1140, 1153 (2d Cir. 1980), ...


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