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United States of America v. Christopher Barret et al

December 12, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
CHRISTOPHER BARRET ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matsumoto, United States District Judge:

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

On October 7, 2010, Ryan Anderson ("Anderson" or the "defendant") was arrested at the residence of Christopher Barret, another defendant in the instant prosecution, after law enforcement agents executed a search warrant upon the home (the "Barret Residence"). Anderson is charged, together with others, in a third superseding indictment with (1) one count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(b)(1)(A)(vii)*fn1 and 846,*fn2 and 18 U.S.C. § 3551 et seq.*fn3 ; (2) one count of distribution of marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1)*fn4 and 841(b)(1)(A)(vii), and 18 U.S.C. §§ 2*fn5 and 3551 et seq.; and (3) one count of use of a firearm in relation to drug trafficking crimes in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1)(A)(i),*fn6 924(c)(1)(A)(iii), 924(c)(1)(A)(iii), 2 and 3551 et seq. (See ECF No. 304, Superseding Indictment ("S-3") ¶¶ 22, 25-26.)

The court assumes the parties' familiarity with the alleged facts underlying the Superseding Indictment as charged by the government and outlined by the court in its Memorandum and Order dated November 16, 2011. See United States v. Barret, No. 10-cr-809, --- F. Supp. 2d ---, 2011 WL 5579079, at *2-4 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 16, 2011).

On September 16, 2011, Anderson moved to suppress his oral post-arrest statements on grounds that his arrest was unlawful because it was unsupported by probable cause. (See ECF No. 250, Defense's Pretrial Motions and Memorandum of Law in Support by Ryan Anderson ("Def. Mem.").) On October 27, 2011, the court granted a hearing upon Anderson's submission of an affidavit based on personal knowledge that raised a disputed material factual issue warranting a hearing. (See Order dated 10/27/2011; ECF No. 278, Affidavit of Ryan Anderson ("Anderson Aff.").) On November 9, 2011, the court held an evidentiary hearing (the "suppression hearing"), during which the government presented two witnesses, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent George McMillin and United States Postal Inspector Ajay Lall. (See Minute Entry dated 11/9/2011.) Defendant did not call any witnesses. (Id.)

The court ordered post-hearing supplemental briefing, and submissions were completed by December 5, 2011. (See id.) Upon consideration of the parties' written submissions--including defendant's affidavit and the testimony and evidence presented at the suppression hearing--and for the reasons stated below, the court respectfully denies Anderson's motion to suppress his post-arrest statements.

FACTUAL FINDINGS

A. Credibility of the Witnesses

Special Agent McMillin, whose hearing testimony the court finds credible, has been employed as a special agent for the DEA for approximately six years. (Transcript of Criminal Cause for Suppression Hearing ("Tr.") at 4.)

For the last five years, he has been assigned to the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force Group T42, which conducts domestic and international narcotics investigations. (Id. at 4:13-25.) Postal Inspector Lall, whose hearing testimony the court also finds credible, has worked as a Postal Inspector for the United States Postal Inspection Service for five years, and his current assignment involves intercepting and prohibiting shipments of narcotics through the mail delivery system. (Id. at 20:1-20.)

B. Circumstances Surrounding Anderson's Arrest

According to Anderson's affidavit, on the day of his arrest, he was at Barret's home, socializing with twenty or more individuals in the backyard, when he heard someone yell that the police were present. (Anderson Aff. ¶ 1.) As others in the yard began to flee, Anderson entered the Barret Residence to find out what was happening. (Id.) When he entered the house, police confronted him and began to ask him questions, to which he provided answers. (Id.)

Special Agent McMillin and Postal Inspector Lall were both present at the Barret Residence at the time of Anderson's arrest, but neither witnessed Anderson's arrest. (See generally Tr.) Because Special Agent McMillin was stationed outside the Barret Residence, providing perimeter security as the Emergency Service Unit (ESU) officers executing the search warrant entered through the rear of the house, he did not observe or participate in Anderson's arrest. (Id. at 6:2-4,25; 7:1-2, 11-25; 17:17-18:4.) Special Agent McMillin first encountered Anderson when agents brought the defendant and other individuals who had been arrested in the backyard or interior of the Barret Residence to the driveway at the front of the home, where Special Agent McMillin and other members of his team searched and handcuffed the arrestees. (Id. at 8:1-6; 11:8-24; 12:10-15.)

Postal Inspector Lall testified that as agents executed the search warrant at the Barret Residence, he conducted "perimeter security" and was stationed two houses away from the Barret Residence. (Id. at 21:17-22:9; 42:14-23.) From that vantage point, Postal Inspector Lall could see only the side entrance and lawn area of the Barret Residence. (Id. at 42:24-43:2.) Consequently, he did not know where Anderson was ...


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