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United States v. Santalucia

October 14, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
DAVID SANTALUCIA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby, United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

Currently before the Court in this criminal weapons possession prosecution is a motion filed byDavid Santalucia ("Defendant") to suppress (1) physical evidence discovered without a search warrant in his mother's home after his arrest there, and (2) an incriminating statement that parole officers elicited from him after the discovery of the physical evidence and allegedly before he was Mirandized. (Dkt. No. 9.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

On January 26, 2006, Defendant signed a Certificate of Release to Parole Supervision in which he agreed to, inter alia, permit parole officers to search and inspect his "person, residence and property." (Dkt. No. 10, Part 3.) At the time, Defendant's "release residence" was listed as 629 Rosemont Place in Utica, NY. (Id.) At some point thereafter, Defendant's approved residence was changed to an apartment in New York City. (Dkt. No. 11, at 2.)

On February 2, 2009, Defendant was arrested at his mother's house in Utica, New York on a parole absconder warrant. (Dkt. No. 11, Part 1, at 1-2.) On April 2, 2009, Defendant was charged in a one count indictment with being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922 (g)(l). (Dkt. No. 9, at 2.)

On June 17, 2009, Defendant filed a motion to suppress (1) physical evidence discovered without a search warrant in his mother's home after his arrest there, and (2) an incriminating statement that parole officers elicited from him after the discovery of the physical evidence and allegedly before he was Mirandized. (Dkt. No. 9.) On July 28, 2009, a suppression hearing was held before the undersigned. At the conclusion of the hearing, the undersigned reserved decision and indicated that a written decision would follow. This is that written decision.

II. STATEMENT OF FACTS

On February 2, 2009, three New York State parole officers set up surveillance outside Defendant's mother's home at 743 Rutger Street in Utica, NY, based on information they received from an informant that Defendant had been staying with his mother there for nearly a week. (Dkt. No. 11, Part 1, at 1-2.) After some time passed, the officers, who were in possession of a non-judicially issued parole warrant dated March 18, 2008 (Dkt. No. 11, Part 2), approached the home and knocked on the door (Dkt. No. 11, Part 1, at 1-2). Defendant's mother answered the door, and granted the officers permission to enter the home. (Id.)

Upon entry, Parole Officer Anthony Stucchi spoke with Ms. Santalucia. (Id.) He advised her of his identity and official status, and informed her that he had an arrest warrant for her son. (Id.) After denying that her son was present in the home, Ms. Santalucia pointed to a partially opened door off the kitchen, indicating with her hand that Defendant was present on the other side of the door. (Id.) Parole Officers Stuchi and Pezdek then pushed open the door, where they found Defendant sitting on a mattress on the floor of a room, holding a pair of blue jeans in his hand while trying to light a cigarette. (Dkt. No. 16, at 21-23.) The two officers took Defendant into custody, placing him in handcuffs and removing him from the room. (Id. at 23-25.)

At the suppression hearing, Officer Lomedico testified that, subsequently, he entered the room and "secured [it] for safety reasons." (Id. at 43-44.) More specifically, Officer Lomedico testified that he entered the room to "look for possibly burning cigarettes on the mattress, weapons, needles, possibly a lamp laying down that could start a fire, things of that nature." (Dkt. No. 16, at 44.) Officer Lomedico testified that, "[a]s [he] knelt down on the mattress, the mattress pulled slightly away from the wall, [and he] could see that there was something that appeared to be a material." (Id.) A further examination revealed that "it was a ski mask with what appeared to be the butt of a pistol coming out from it." (Id. at 44-45.)

Officer Lomedico "brought [the gun] out into the kitchen and . . . handed it to the police officers that were coming in." (Id. at 46.) Officer Stuchi testified that, "when [he] saw [Officer Lomedico] come out of the room with [the gun] and realized what it was inside the hat, [he] turned to [Defendant] and just kind of basically whispered, what are you doing with that," to which Defendant replied, "I have a lot of enemies." (Id. at 24-25.)

The warrant squad arrived shortly thereafter, took custody of the weapon, and asked Ms. Santalucia for permission to search the remainder of the premises. (Id. at 27-28.) After Ms. Santalucia declined permission, the warrant squad sought and obtained a warrant to search the house. (Id. at 28.) A search of the house was then performed. (Id.)

III. SUMMARY OF GROUNDS FOR MOTION TO SUPPRESS

Defendant argues that the physical evidence should be suppressed because, based on the totality of the circumstances, the search exceeded the officers' authority. In particular, Defendant argues that (1) there was no warrant to search the home, (2) Defendant has a reasonable expectation of privacy in a third party's home when he is an overnight guest there, and (3) after Defendant was placed in handcuffs, there no longer existed security concerns that justified a search of the home. Defendant further argues that the incriminating ...


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