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United States v. Robbins

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

April 7, 2014

JACK ROBBINS, Defendant.



Presently pending before the Court is Defendant Jack Robbins' Motion to Suppress. [Dkt. 110.] For the reasons explained, the Court DENIES the motion. Three of Mr. Robbins' codefendants also have suppression motions pending before the Court. The Court decides those motions in separate orders also issued on this date.



Law enforcement applied for a search warrant for Mr. Robbins' residence based solely on the affidavit of Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Todd Prewitt (the "Prewitt Affidavit"). A magistrate judge concluded that the affidavit was sufficient to establish probable cause and issued a search warrant. [Case No. 1:13-mj-00196-DML, Dkt. 2 at 1.] Mr. Robbins moves to suppress evidence discovered in his residence as a result of this search warrant solely on the ground that the Prewitt Affidavit was insufficient to establish probable cause that evidence of a crime would be found at his residence. [ See, e.g., Dkt. 111 at 7.] Accordingly, the parties do not dispute the facts necessary to resolve Mr. Robbins' motion, and the Court's factual background focuses on the attestations in the Prewitt Affidavit.

The Prewitt Affidavit begins by setting forth in detail "common practices of indoor marijuana growers and distributors" based on Special Agent Prewitt's "training and experience, ... participation in the investigation of indoor marijuana grow operations, and... consultation with experienced federal and state law enforcement officers." [Prewitt Affidavit at 4; see id. at 4-12.] Particularly relevant here is Special Agent Prewitt's statement that "it is generally a common practice for drug traffickers to store drug inventory, drug related paraphernalia, and records related to drug trafficking in their residences and vehicles." [ Id. at 7 ¶ 11.] For example, Special Agent Prewitt states that it is a "common practice for traffickers to conceal at their residences large sums of money" and "[e]vidence of... financial transactions and records relating to income and expenditures... in connection with drug trafficking." [ Id. at 7-8 ¶¶ 13-14.] He further attests to knowledge of the fact that courts "have recognized that, with respect to drug dealers, evidence of their involvement in the drug trade is likely to be found where the dealers reside-even if no drug trafficking was observed to occur there." [ Id. at 12 ¶ 24.]

After detailing common practices of indoor marijuana growers and distributors, the Prewitt Affidavit sets forth eleven individuals under investigation for participation in a conspiracy to grow and distribute marijuana. [ Id. at 12-13 ¶ 25.] Mr. Robbins was one such individual, and Special Agent Prewitt "believed [Mr. Robbins] to be a leader of the organization"-which the Prewitt Affidavit refers to as the "Robbins Organization"-"and is responsible for coordinating the overall activities of this organization and receiving the financial proceeds of the marijuana sales." [ Id. at 12 ¶ 25a.]

Special Agent Prewitt then described in detail law enforcement's investigative efforts into the Robbins Organization. The Court focuses here on the attestations related to Mr. Robbins. To establish probable cause to search Mr. Robbins' residence, Special Agent Prewitt relies on information provided by two confidential sources, referred to in the Prewitt Affidavit as "CS#1" and "CS#2." [ Id. at 14-15 ¶ 28-29.] Special Agent Prewitt believed the confidential sources to be reliable given that they "have provided reliable information in the past and have been corroborated unknowingly by one another and by independent investigation conducted by [Special Agent Prewitt] and other agents in [the] case." [ Id. at 15 ¶ 29.]

CS#1 voluntarily approached law enforcement with information regarding the Robbins Organization, stating that "he/she wanted to provide law enforcement the information because of personal ties with a member of the Robbins Organization" and because CS#1 was "concern[ed] for th[e] individual's well-being due to substantial involvement with controlled substances and the criminal activities of the Robbins Organization." [ Id. at 15-16 ¶ 31.] Law enforcement then determined that CS#1 "has legitimate employment, is not a target of any criminal investigation, has no known involvement in criminal activity, and is not subject to any known pending criminal charges." [ Id. at 16 ¶ 31.] Moreover, law enforcement corroborated "most of the information provided by CS#1" and "is aware of no instance in which CS#1's information has been knowingly false or of any other circumstances casting doubt on CS#1's credibility." [ Id. ]

CS#1 provided specific information to law enforcement regarding the operations of the Robbins Organization, including that the organization "has been in operation for over 15 years, " makes "about $40, 000 to $50, 000 per month in proceeds from the sale of... marijuana, " and that Mr. Robbins' co-defendant Robbyn Kaczmarek "was involved (at the time) in the day to day operation of at least four marijuana grow houses for the Robbins Organization." [ Id. at 16 ¶ 32.] Particularly relevant to the instant motion is that CS#1 informed law enforcement that "one of the leaders of the Robbins Organization and [Ms.] Kaczmarek's boss' [i]s an individual... in his mid-30s, who has twin sons approximately three years old and who drives a Nissan Maxima." [ Id. at 17 ¶ 33.] That individual "has since been identified by law enforcement as [Mr.] Robbins." [ Id. ] This identification was made at least in part because law enforcement independently corroborated each of the facts regarding Ms. Kaczmarek's "boss." Specifically,

[l]aw enforcement verified [Mr.] Robbins was born in 1976, making him thirtysix years old. A review of publically accessible Facebook pages shows a photograph on Kerri Strange's profile of [Mr.] Robbins holding twin sons that appear to be about three years old. Law enforcement has also received information that Kerri Strange... has twin sons with Robbins. Law enforcement has observed [Mr.] Robbins driving a gray Nissan Maxima.... A check though the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles revealed the vehicle is a gray 2008 Nissan registered to [Mr.] Robbins.

[ Id. at 21 ¶ 43.]

CS#1 further provided law enforcement with "information which assisted [them] in the identification of the addresses/locations of ultimately five marijuana grow houses utilized by the Robbins Organization." [ Id. at 17 ¶ 34.] "Physical and electronic surveillance of the Robbins Organization have corroborated CS#1's information regarding members of the [organization] and the location of grow houses." [ Id. at 19 ¶ 38.] Specifically, "[s]urveillance has shown [Mr.] Robbins, [Ms.] Kaczmarek and other members of the Robbins Organization and their known vehicles frequently visiting the location believe to be indoor marijuana grow houses." [ Id. at 19-20 ¶ 38.]

The Prewitt Affidavit next details information provided to law enforcement by CS#2. CS#2 admitted to law enforcement that "he/she purchased large amounts of marijuana from various supplies in Southern Indiana and had familiarity with a number of regional suppliers of indoor-grown marijuana." [ Id. at 20 ¶ 40.] Following CS#2's arrest, information CS#2 provided "led to the discovery of a large indoor grow in Jackson County." [ Id. ] CS#2 provided further information regarding the Robbins Organization, including by participating in controlled marijuana purchases at the direction of law enforcement. [ Id. ] For example, CS#2 admitted to the purchase of marijuana from Mr. Robbins' codefendant Drew Hall "over 100 times over the past fifteen years" and believed that Mr. Hall "was getting his marijuana from [Mr.] Robbins and possibly other sources of supply." [ Id. at 21 ¶¶ 42-43.] Further, CS#2 informed law enforcement that [Mr.] Robbins and [his codefendant] Eric Bell were responsible for or associated with at least four to ...

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