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United States v. Zamora

United States District Court, N.D. New York

September 4, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA -v- ESAU ZAMORA, Defendant

APPEARANCES: SEAN K. O'DOWD, ESQ., Ass't United States Attorney, OF COUNSEL, HON. RICHARD S. HARTUNIAN, United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York, Albany, NY.

For Defendant: FRANK POLICELLI, ESQ., OF COUNSEL, OFFICE OF FRANK POLICELLI, Utica, NY.

Page 398

MEMORANDUM--DECISION and ORDER

David N. Hurd, United States District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

On October 11, 2013, a seven-count indictment was filed in the Northern District of New York charging defendants Esau Zamora, Gonzalo Reyes, and Manuel Zamora-Rivas with federal crimes. Specifically, Zamora is charged with bringing six illegal aliens to the United States (" Counts 1-6" ), and all three defendants are charged with transporting aliens within the United States (" Count 7" ). Defendants Reyes and Zamora-Rivas pleaded guilty to Count 7 in January 2014. Both have since been sentenced to time-served.

On March 3, 2014, Zamora filed a motion to suppress statements he made to United States Border Patrol agents on July 15, 2013. The parties then agreed to an adjournment of deadlines, after which Zamora supplemented his motion. He now also seeks to preclude the video deposition of Victor Mejia--Hernandez, taken pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 15, as well as evidence of his prior convictions and bad acts.[1] The Government opposes the supplemented motion.

A suppression hearing was conducted on August 22, 2014, in Utica, New York. The

Page 399

hearing addressed only Zamora's request to suppress statements.[2] United States Border Patrol (" USBP" ) agents James Northrop and Dustin Judd testified at the hearing. Zamora did not call any witnesses. Decision was reserved.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The following facts are gleaned fro the parties' pre-hearing submissions, the witnesses' testimony, and the exhibit admitted at the hearing.

On the night of July 14, 2013, Agent Judd--a seven-year veteran of the USBP--responded to a motion sensor activation near Churubusco, New York, on the border between the United States and Canada. A short while later, just after midnight on July 15, 2013, Agent Northrop--a five-year veteran of the USBP--pulled over a white Dodge Caravan on Route 11 in Chateaugay, New York, near the Canadian border. The van was driven by co-defendant Gonzalo Reyes. Zamora was in the front passenger seat, and at least six undocumented immigrants from El Salvador were in the back seats. Everyone in the van was arrested and placed in vehicles to be transported to the USBP station. Zamora was handcuffed and placed in the back of a USBP car by himself.

Agent Judd arrived on the scene shortly thereafter and spoke with the other agents. Zamora then called to the agents through an open window of the USBP vehicle, and Agents Judd and Northrop walked over to the car. Zamora asked Agent Northrop if he could speak with a supervisor. Agent Northrop advised that a supervisor was not available at the time but asked Zamora: " [Is] there anything that I could help [you] with?" Hr'g Tr. 7:15 (" Tr. " ). The defendant asked to speak with a supervisor a second time, stating: " I really like to speak to a supervisor." Tr. 7:17-18. Agent Northrop again told him a supervisor was unavailable but asked: " What can we help you with here on the scene until we get back to the station?" Tr. 7:19-20.

Zamora then stated, " I want to take the rap for this" --meaning full blame for the crime. Tr. 7:21-23, 17:17-21. He had not been read his Miranda rights prior to making this statement. Agent Northrop advised him that his message would be relayed to a supervisor but did not include this statement in the narrative portion of his arrest report as it " slipped [his] ...


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