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UNITED STATES v. GUZMAN

February 20, 1998

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
MIGUEL GUZMAN, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SCHEINDLIN

OPINION AND ORDER

 SHIRA A. SCHEINDLIN, U.S.D.J.

 Defendant Miguel Guzman ("Guzman" or "defendant") is charged in a multi-defendant, multi-count RICO and drug conspiracy indictment. The Government alleges that he was the leader of a gang known as "Power Rules," and that this group engaged in murder, armed robbery, extortion and large-scale drug dealing. Guzman now moves to suppress a statement he made to Detective Loser James Lane of the New York City Police Department ("NYPD") on November 10, 1994, regarding the attempted murder of Pedro Mercado, which occurred on November 8, 1994. While Guzman was never charged with this attempted murder by the state authorities, *fn1" he is now charged with conspiracy to murder Pedro Mercado and the attempted murder of Mercado and Amauri Avalo, an off-duty police officer. See Counts One, Two, Five, Six, Seven and Thirty Five of the Indictment. *fn2" Guzman contends that the statement was obtained in violation of his constitutional rights. A hearing on this motion was held on December 8 and 30, 1997 and on January 15, 1998. Because defendant was in custody when he made the statement and Miranda warnings were not given, Guzman's motion to suppress his statement is granted. However, because Guzman's substantive constitutional rights were not violated, his motion to suppress evidence derived from his statement is denied.

 I. Factual Background

 On the afternoon of November 9, 1994, Guzman beeped Police Officer Robert Grant ("Grant"), an officer to whom he had previously provided information. Transcript of Hearing ("TR") at 159. When Grant called him back, Guzman asked why the cops were looking for him. TR at 159, 172. Grant testified that after he checked with his office he learned that a cop had been shot and that Guzman was "around when it happened." TR at 161. Grant then called Guzman and:

 
told him that they [the police] were looking for him because there was a cop shot. And there were people in the neighborhood that said he had something to do with it, that he was either driving the car or inside the car that the person that did the shooting got into.

 TR. at 174. Guzman, in turn, told Grant that he feared the cops who were looking for him, but would speak with Grant on the street. TR at 162.

 Before going out to speak to Guzman, Grant returned to his precinct and met with Lieutenant Bramble, who decided that he and Detective Lane would accompany Grant when Grant spoke to Guzman. Grant testified that as a result of the meeting, "we decided we were going to bring Miguel to the precinct [to take a statement]." TR at 177. The officers then went to find Guzman at his home on Union Ave. in the Bronx. When Grant saw Guzman, "he told [Guzman] he would have to come with us to the 40th Precinct." TR at 164 (emphasis added). *fn3" Guzman was then driven to the precinct in a police vehicle. TR 1/15/98 at 12. Grant conceded that Guzman was not given Miranda warnings on the street or during the ride to the precinct. TR at 180.

 Guzman was questioned at the precinct from approximately 4:00 p.m. until at least 5:00 a.m. the next morning. TR at 181, 185, 305. During these hours he was questioned in an interview room, primarily by Grant, who testified that Guzman was a "suspect" in the investigation. TR at 181. Initially, Guzman stated that "he had nothing to do with the shooting, he wasn't there." TR at 165. Not satisfied with Guzman's statement, Grant "explained to him the information I got and other detectives in my office got, was that he [Guzman] was either driving the car or had gotten into the car that the person that did the shooting got into." Id. Grant testified that his technique of questioning Guzman was to meet his denials with more information that contradicted those denials:

 
When I first asked him what happened, I just asked him, as it went on I said, listen, we got somebody that said, we saw you running away. He denied he was there. Then I told him his car was supposedly at the scene. And it goes on from that point.

 TR at 189; *fn4" see also TR at 191 ("I just kept asking him what happened. I told him that I knew he was there, that there were people that were going to say that he was there.") and TR at 309 ("Q: And you continued to confront him with information that you had, correct? A: Right."). Eventually, after five or six hours of questioning, Guzman stated that although he was not at the shooting he had heard about it. He stated that Tommy Perez was the person that did the shooting. He described Perez and the vicinity in which he could be found. See Gov't Exhibit 350, Report of Detective Robert Lane. Lieutenant Bramble testified that Guzman "placed himself in the car prior to the shooting . . . told us where the car could be found . . . [and] may have even told us the plate number for the car." TR 1/15/98 at 21.

 The Government concedes that at no time during the all-night questioning was Guzman given Miranda warnings. See Government's Memorandum of Law in opposition to Miguel Guzman's Motion to Suppress His Statement Made November 9, 1994 ("Gov't Mem.") at 4; TR at 208 (Lane). In addition, both Grant and Lane testified that Guzman was never told that he was free to leave the precinct. TR at 190, 208. *fn5" Finally, Lane confirmed that whenever Guzman was moved within the precinct building, "someone would come in and say come with me, and he would be taken to another room." TR at 235.

 Early on the morning of November 10, 1994, the officers went to Holland Ave. in the Bronx to locate Guzman's car, guided by information Guzman provided during the interrogation. TR at 228; TR 1/15/98 at 15. At that time, they believed that this car was used in the shooting they were investigating. TR at 187 ("Q: And you also stated that his car matched the description of the car seen leaving the scene, correct? A: That's what I just said."). As noted earlier, Lieutenant Bramble testified that Guzman "told us where the car could be found." TR 1/15/98 ...


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