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United States v. Coates

United States District Court, W.D. New York

April 14, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
STEVIE COATES, Defendant.

DECISION AND ORDER

RICHARD J. ARCARA, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is defendant Stevie Coates' objections to Magistrate Judge Scott's Report and Recommendation (Dkt. No. 54) and appeal from Magistrate Judge Scott's Decision and Order (Dkt. No. 55). For the following reasons, and for the reasons set forth in Magistrate Judge Scott's Report and Recommendation and Decision and Order, the Magistrate Judge's findings are adopted in their entirety. Defendant's motion to suppress statements is granted in part and denied in part, and his motion for a bill of particulars is denied.

RELEVANT FACTS

Defendant is charged with attempt to possess and distribute a controlled substance in violation 21 U.S.C. §846; attempt to import controlled substances in violation of 21 U.S.C. §846; and smuggling goods into the United States in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1461. The matter was referred to Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott for supervision of all pre-trial proceedings.

Defendant made various discovery related and other non-dispositive motions, including a request for a bill of particulars. Defendant also moved to suppress the statements he made at the time of his arrest. A suppression hearing was held before Magistrate Judge Scott. The only witness to testify was Special Agent Jason Siuda of Homeland Security Investigation. The Magistrate Judge credited the following facts testified to at the hearing.

Agent Siuda was called to the Lewiston Bridge on October 31, 2010, after a car driven by defendant was found to contain approximately 6, 000 pills of what officers stationed at the Bridge believed to be Ecstasy. The car was initially stopped because defendant's passenger, Jose Martinez, had the same name and birth date as an individual with an outstanding warrant. While the officers waited for confirmation regarding the warrant, they searched the car. They discovered the 6, 000 pills of what they believed to be Ecstacy under the back seat. The pills were stamped in a manner consistent with other Ecstacy tablets, and a field test resulted in a positive finding for MDMA.

The officers did not inform defendant and Martinez that they had discovered the pills. Instead, the officers replaced the tablets with plastic pills and followed them in a "cold convoy". Defendant and Martinez were ultimately arrested at a gas station on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Niagara Falls, New York. They were taken back to the Lewiston Bridge for questioning, and placed in separate interview rooms.

Agent Siuda testified that he began by asking defendant some biographical information, and then read him his Miranda rights from an advice of rights form regularly used by the agents. Defendant indicated that he understood them, and initialed the form. Agent Siuda testified that after being read his Miranda rights, defendant was asked about the pills. In response, defendant stated "I don't know what you are talking about." During the hearing, it was later revealed that notes taken by another agent present during the interview indicated that prior to the administration of the Miranda warnings, defendant was asked why he was in Canada and where he had been. Defendant stated that he went to his cousin's house in Brampton, Ontario for a birthday party, that he stayed overnight, that when he woke up he noticed someone had taken the keys to his car, and that he left to return to the United States at approximately 2:30 p.m. that afternoon.

It is undisputed that upon further laboratory analysis, it was revealed that the tablets in the vehicle were caffeine pills rather than Ecstasy.

DISCUSSION

Appeal of the Decision and Order

Defendant appeals from the portion of Magistrate Judge Scott's Decision and Order denying his motion for a bill of particulars. Defendant argues that a bill of particulars is necessary here because he has been charged with a crime for "what appears to be innocent conduct." (Dkt. No. 59)

In his Decision and Order, Magistrate Judge Scott provides a comprehensive discussion of the case law with respect to a criminal defendant's right to a bill of particulars, as well as a thorough analysis of why defendant is not entitled to one in this case. (Dkt. No. 55) Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1)(A), the district court "may reconsider any pretrial matter under this subparagraph (A), where it has been shown that the magistrate's order is "clearly erroneous or contrary to law." Here, there has been no showing that Magistrate Judge ...


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