The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kahn, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM — DECISION AND ORDER
Presently before the Court are Defendant's Motions to Suppress
Evidence and Dismiss Count Three of the Superseding Indictment.
For the reasons stated herein, these motions are DENIED.
On February 16, 2001, co-defendant Kirk Gayle attempted to
enter the United States at Champlain, New York. Gayle was
stopped and questioned by agents of the United States Border
Patrol. The agents
found a piece of paper that Gayle was carrying containing a
telephone number and another three-digit number. Border Patrol
Agent Peter Dunbar called the telephone number and discovered
that it belonged to the smithfield Inn located in Plattsburgh,
New York. The other number on the piece of paper contained three
digits "132", presumably that of a room at the hotel. The clerk
at the hotel refused to divulge the name of that room's
occupant. Agent Dunbar then drove to the hotel. When Agent
Dunbar arrived at the hotel, the desk clerk told him that the
room was registered to Rohan Ingram. Agent Dunbar ran a criminal
record check on Ingram through the Treasury Enforcement Computer
System (TECS) located in Swanton, Vermont. The check revealed
that Ingram was not a citizen of the United States and had a
criminal record in Canada, including multiple convictions for
firearms offenses. Ingram was therefore, illegally present in
the United States. The information from the background check
cautioned "that [Ingram] was possibly armed and dangerous, had a
history of violence."
Border Patrol Agent Labounty soon joined agent Dunbar at the
hotel. As the two agents approached Ingram's room they saw a
male walking down the hall. The agents approached the man,
identified themselves, and asked him for identification. The man
stated that he was Rohan Ingram and told the agents that he was
from Canada. After producing a Canadian driver's license for
identification, Ingram was placed under arrest.
The Agents then asked Ingram who else was in the hotel room
since they heard voices coming from his room. Ingram did not
answer so the Agent's knocked on the room's door. Ann-Marie
Richardson answered. Agent Dunbar asked her for identification.
Richardson turned and walked across the hotel room toward a bag
to retrieve her identification. Agent Dunbar followed her inside
the room. As he walked past the bathroom he saw a box labeled
"Firearms" inside an open duffle bag. The bag contained
approximately 13 handguns. Agent Dunbar placed Richardson in
custody. Subsequently, Ingram provided a signed, written
statement to federal law enforcement officials.
Defendant Ingram now seeks to suppress all evidence seized
from the hotel room on February 16, 2001 and his written
statement to federal law enforcement officials. Defendant argues
that the Agents' actions constituted an unlawful search and
seizure in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. An
evidentiary hearing was held before the Court on July 3, 2001
and July 9, 2001, and the parties submitted memorandums of law
in support of their positions. Defendant Ingram also moves to
dismiss Count Three of the Indictment because his predicate
conviction is from a foreign jurisdiction.
There are three questions the Court must answer if the
Government is to be allowed to use the evidence discovered in
Defendant's hotel room. The preliminary question is whether
Agents Dunbar and Labounty had probable cause to arrest
Defendant. Second, did the agents have the right to enter
Defendant's hotel room? Third, did the agents have the right to
seize the evidence once inside the hotel room? Whether
Defendant's written statement is admissible turns on whether
Defendant was properly Mirandized. Lastly, the issue of Count
Three depends on whether a conviction from a foreign
jurisdiction may serve as a predicate offense for a violation of
18 U.S.C. § 922(g).
1. Probable Cause to Arrest
Law enforcement officers may lawfully arrest persons without
warrant under certain circumstances. A warrantless arrest is
permitted when an officer has probable cause to believe the
arrestee has committed a felony. See United States v. Watson,
423 U.S. 411, 418, 96 S.Ct. 820, 46 L.Ed.2d 598 (1976). Probable
cause to make a warrantless arrest exists when at the time of
the arrest "the facts and circumstances within the [officer's]
knowledge and of which they had reasonably trustworthy
information were sufficient to warrant a prudent man in
believing that the [Defendant] had committed or was committing
an offense." Beck v. Ohio, 379 U.S. 89, 91, 85 S.Ct. 223, 13
L.Ed.2d 142 (1964); Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471,
479, 83 S.Ct. 407, 9 L.Ed.2d 441 (1963).
Defendant argues that the evidence found in his hotel room is
the inadmissible fruit of an unconstitutional arrest. In the
case at hand the Agents had probable cause to arrest Ingram
based on the criminal background check run through TECS. The
background check revealed that Ingram was not a citizen of the
United States and had a criminal record in Canada, including
multiple convictions for firearms offenses. Ingram was
therefore, illegally present in the United States. This
information gave the Agents probable cause to arrest him. ...