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United States v. Goncalves

May 15, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Norman A. Mordue, Chief United States District Judge



Defendant Manuel Goncalves is charged in a three-count indictment with: (1) conspiring to cultivate, manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana and possessing with intent to distribute cocaine, cocaine base ("crack"), and heroine (21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)); (2) possessing six firearms in relation to a drug trafficking crime (18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)); and (3) possessing firearms while having been convicted of a prior felony (18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2)). Dkt. No. 7.

On October 30, 2007, defendant filed a motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(3)(C) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure for suppression of all evidence obtained as a result of law enforcement's entry into his residence on May 10, 2007. Dkt. No. 15. The government opposed defendant's motion and cross-moved for discovery. Dkt. No. 19. Defendant opposed the government's motion for discovery and cross-moved for an order compelling the government to respond to his requests for discovery and for exculpatory material. Dkt. No. 22. The Court held an evidentiary hearing regarding defendant's motion to suppress on February 6, 2008, and directed the parties to file proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law.


Defendant moves to suppress evidence law enforcement obtained following two warrantless entries into his residence on May 10, 2007, on the ground that the entries violated the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. Defendant also moves to suppress evidence law enforcement obtained following their execution of a search warrant at his residence on May 10, 2007. The following, based upon the Court's consideration of the testimony and exhibits produced at the hearing as well as consideration of the parties' arguments and the applicable law, constitutes the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law.

A. Findings of Fact

The events at issue in this case stem from a 911 call on May 10, 2007, by Betty Mulkey, an acquaintance of defendant's, to request that an "officer meet [her] at 114 Lawrence Street" in Syracuse, New York so that she could "take [her] car and [her] plates" from defendant, who, she claimed, would not return them to her. Dkt. No.15-3. According to the transcript of the 911 call, Mulkey also reported to the operator that defendant used illegal drugs and possessed weapons:

OPERATOR: Alright, do you know whether [defendant will] be home?

MULKEY: He's home right now.

OPERATOR: All right.

MULKEY: I asked, 'cause I asked him for the plates and he told me, you know because I owe him $300, he says well, when you give me the money I'll give you the plates. And it was like, look, I don't wanna be grimey, I said, but if you don't give 'em to me so I cancel out my insurance. he says, well you're not gettin' 'em, and I said fine, then I'll do it the hard way.

OPERATOR: Okay, all right. Um, do you know whether he.drinks or does illegal drugs?

MULKEY: He does drugs.

OPERATOR: Does drugs, okay.

MULKEY: Oh yes. He does heroin and Oxycontins.

OPERATOR: Okay, do you know whether he carries any weapons on him?

MULKEY: Yes he does. He's got a 9-millimeter and a .25 in the house.

OPERATOR: Okay, does he live alone?

MULKEY: Um, yes he does, well, his daughter's staying with him right now, but um, his ex-wife and his kids are over there right now too.

OPERATOR: Okay. And 9-millimeter, what was the other gun?

MULKEY: (Sniffs) .25.


MULKEY: And several we- rifles, that's it in the safe.

OPERATOR: Okay. (pause) All right, you wait at 124 Lawrence, okay, watch for the police, because they're, if that's not the address, they're not going to go looking for you.


Syracuse Police Officer Patrick Coyle testified that on May 10, 2007, at approximately 3:30 p.m., a police dispatcher directed him to 114 Lawrence Street to attend to a dispute over a vehicle.*fn1 Transcript, p.8 ("T.8"). Officer Coyle stated that he "stopped in front of 114 Lawrence Street and . . . met with Betty Mulkey" who previously called 911. Id. Officer Coyle testified that Mulkey said she was "trying to retrieve a vehicle that was parked in the driveway at 114 Lawrence Street." T.9. According to Officer Coyle, Mulkey identified defendant as the person who lived in the residence at 114 Lawrence Street, and stated that she had been inside "at about 2:00 and at the time she saw two handguns in the bedroom of that residence." Id. Officer Coyle testified that Mulkey also stated that she observed "possibly a rifle" and that the firearms were "in the bedroom" on a bed and another was inside a safe. T.10. Officer Coyle described Mulkey's demeanor as "a little bit annoyed about . . . not being able to get her vehicle" but that she was not upset or crying while talking to him. Id.

Officer Coyle testified that after talking to Mulkey, he "walked up to the front porch of 114 Lawrence" where Stacey Byrne Goncalves, defendant's wife, was standing on the steps to the residence. T.11. Officer Coyle stated that he asked Stacey Goncalves where defendant was and she replied that he was "inside." T.12. Officer Coyle testified that Stacey Goncalves, whose demeanor he described as "indifferent" and "cooperative", T.15, "then turned around and proceeded inside the door and I followed her in to another door. She then proceeded through that door and I stepped inside the second door into the threshold of the doorway."*fn2 T.13. Officer Coyle stated that he was "right behind" Stacey Goncalves, that she did not close either of the doors behind her, id., and that she did not tell him to stop or that he could not come in. T.15. Officer Coyle further stated that he: was somewhat skeptical of Mulkey's statement and I thought she was using that as a way to have the police go in, annoy [defendant] and to get her license plates back or vehicle. So I was, in the back of my head, I had that the guns might be in the house, but I didn't believe her a hundred percent . . . . It was more of an officer safety reason, I was walking into a house where there was supposed to be guns so I didn't want to give this person an opportunity to see me coming.

T.40-41. Officer Coyle testified that as soon as he stepped "through the threshold of the door and immediately upon entry, [he] noticed a very strong odor of marijuana." T.16.

According to Officer Coyle, Stacey Goncalves asked the children in the residence where defendant was, and that defendant then "appeared from the unknown location, I guess it was the back of the house." T.16-17. Officer Coyle testified that defendant "was highly agitated" and told him "to get the fuck out of his house." T.17. Officer Coyle stated that he informed defendant that they "were conducting [an] investigation about a vehicle that was parked in his driveway" and that defendant "[b]ecame combative, told me to get out, numerous times, and then he started making a beeline for the bedroom door." T.17-18. Officer Coyle followed defendant toward the door and defendant "slammed the door . . . in front of me, I had my foot in the door, the children were yelling, Stacey [Goncalves] was yelling get out." T.18. Officer Coyle testified that Stacey Goncalves's demeanor had changed and that she had become uncooperative and told him to "get the fuck out of her house". Id.

Officer Coyle stated that the door to the bedroom was translucent and he observed defendant slide a dresser in front of the door, heard "drawers opening and closing, some banging around", and then heard defendant call 911. T.19. Officer Coyle stated that when defendant barricaded himself in the bedroom, he drew his weapon, T.35, "[b]ecause I had a report that there's potentially guns in that bedroom, so for officer safety reason, I took my weapon out. I didn't know where he was going, he could be going for the weapons." T.41-42. Officer Coyle testified that while defendant was calling 911, he was on his "radio requesting a patrol supervisor to respond." T.20. Officer Coyle stated that defendant then exited the bedroom, handed him the phone and asked him to speak to the 911 operator. Id. Officer Coyle testified that he refused. Id. Officer Coyle stated that after defendant left the bedroom he was combative and uncooperative, he was highly agitated," and was "taking a defensive posture." Id. Officer Coyle explained that for "officer safety reasons" he did not want defendant to get too far away from him, but that every time he tried to get near him, defendant acted as if he was going to punch him. T. 20-21.

Syracuse Police Sergeant Scott Bodah responded to the premises following defendant's 911 call and Officer Coyle's request for a patrol supervisor. T.45. Sergeant Bodah testified that he entered the residence through the back door, id., and found Officers Coyle and Lindgren and defendant in the living room "just standing there". T.47. Sergeant Bodah stated that defendant told him that "these officers won't leave my house, I've asked them to leave my house, I want them to leave my house." T.47. Sergeant Bodah testified that he asked Officer Coyle why they were in defendant's house and why they were not leaving. Id. Sergeant Bodah stated that Officer Coyle explained "that he was there on this vehicle matter, that he smelled a strong odor of marijuana, he was very concerned for his safety because he . . . believed that the defendant had gun in his bedroom." Id. Sergeant Bodah testified that defendant "reached out to [him] with a ...

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