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United States v. Levasseur

decided: April 1, 1987.


Appeal from judgments of conviction entered on April 28, 29, 30, and May 2, 1986 by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. (I. Leo Glasser, J.), based on jury verdicts finding defendants-appellants guilty of bombing buildings affecting interstate commerce, bombing military installations, attempted bombing, and conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 371, 844(f), and 844(i).

Author: Altimari

Before: MANSFIELD,*fn* PRATT and ALTIMARI, Circuit Judges.

ALTIMARI, Circuit Judge:

Defendants-appellants seek to overturn various judgments entered by the United States District Court for the eastern District of New York (I. Leo Glasser, J.) on April 28, 29, and 30, and May 2, 1986. The appellants, along with one other co-defendant whose trial had to be adjourned, had been charged in a twelve-count indictment with conspiring to bomb, attempting to bomb, and bombing a series of military offices and buildings use din interstate commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 844(f), and 844(i). After a five-month jury trial, all six appellants were convicted on the conspiracy count; four were convicted on the attempt charge; and individual appellants were found guilty of between tow and five completed bombings. The jury acquitted Carol Ann Manning on one bombing count, and was unable to reach a verdict on any of the remaining counts. Judge Glasser sentenced the appellants to consecutive terms of imprisonment on their various convictions, with the following total sentences: fifteen years (Curzi-Laaman and Carol Manning), forty-five years (Levasseur and Williams), and fifty-three years (Laaman and Thomas Manning).

The principal issues raised on appeal pertain to the district court's refusal to suppress various pieces of evidence seized during searches of appellants' houses and cars. One motion was denied in advance of a hearing, and tow on the basis of suppression hearing testimony. For reasons explained below, we affirm all convictions.


A. United Freedom Front: Activities and Investigations

Appellants, along with former co-defendant Patricia Gros, were the subjects of a decade-long nationwide search prior to their arrests in 1984 and 1985. They were suspects in a variety of crimes for which several underground organizations with which appellants were allegedly affiliated took credit. Among those crimes were eight Boston-area bombings occurring between 1976 and 1979, the murder of a New Jersey State Trooper and the attempted murder of a Massachusetts State Trooper, several other assaults on law enforcement officers, and several armed bank robberies.

The indictment in this case charged appellants with conspiring to bomb and bombing nine buildings (one building twice), and also with an unsuccessful attempt to bomb an additional site. The ten sites were located in the New York metropolitan area and were used either by the military or in interstate commerce. The indictment identified the dates and sites of the completed bombings as follows:

COUNT DATE BUILDING 2 December 16, 1982 IBM Corp. 600 Mamaroneck Ave. Harrison, N.Y. 3 December 16, 1982 South African Airways Procurement Office 1975 Linden Blvd. Elmont, N.Y. 4 January 29, 1984 Motorola Corporation 17-22 Whitestone Expressway Queens, N.Y. 5 March 19, 1984 IBM Corp. 3000 Westchester Ave. Harrison, N.Y. 6 August 22, 1984 General Electric Corp. Building 1C Huntington Quadrangle Melville, N.Y. 7 September 26, 1984 Union Carbide Corp. Old Saw Mill River Road Mount Pleasant, N.Y. 8 May 12, 1983 Theodore Roosevelt Jr. Army Reserve Center 101 Oak Street Uniondale, N.Y. 9 May 13, 1983 Naval Reserve Center 150-74 6th Avenue Queens, N.Y. 10 August 21, 1983 Sgt. John Muller Army Reserve Center 555 East 238th Street Bronx, N.Y. 11 December 13, 1983 Navy Recruiting District Office 1975 Hempstead Turnpike East Meadow, N.Y.

In addition, the indictment charged that the attempted bombing took place on December 14, 1983, at 24-30 Skillman Avenue, Queens, N.Y., a building containing offices of the Honeywell Corporation.

Each bomb was built with dynamite, a pocket watch, a 9-volt battery, black plastic tape, and snap connectors or battery clips. Each explosion was preceded by a warning call and followed by one in a series of consecutively numbered communiques. In the communiques, the United Freedom Front (UFF) claimed responsibility and identified its purported political justifications for the bombings.

Throughout their ten-plus years of underground activities, appellants adopted assumed names, moved repeatedly, and used scanners to monitor police and FBI radio communications. In 1982, for example, Levasseur and the Mannings suddenly deserted their Eastern Pennsylvania residences as law enforcement officials were close to finding them, leaving behind stores of weapons, ammunition, instructions and materials for assembling bombs, and personal belongings.

By the fall of 1984, appellants had moved into several residences in and around Cleveland Ohio. Their discovery there led numerous FBI agents and law enforcement officials to converge on the area.

On November 3, 1984, former co-defendant Patricia Gros was followed to a Deerfield, Ohio residence she shared with appellant Levasseur, her husband. Agents observed appellant Williams drive away from the Gros-Levasseur residence that evening, and followed him to 4248 West 22nd Street in Cleveland, ...

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