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United States v. Thomas

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division

December 28, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
SEVON EDWIN THOMAS, Defendant.

          ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Sevon Thomas' (“Thomas”) Motion to Find Unconstitutional the Stop, Seizure, Search and Arrest of Sevon Thomas and to Subsequently Suppress the Fruits of the Poisonous Tree, (Filing No. 60). Thomas is charged with violating 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A), possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, and 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(i), possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The jury trial in this matter is scheduled to begin on Monday, January 14, 2019. Thomas asserts the challenged stop, seizure and search of his person violated his Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, justifying suppression of the evidence. For the following reasons, Thomas' motion is DENIED.

         I. FINDINGS OF FACT

         Thomas asked the Court to conduct an evidentiary hearing pursuant to Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and thereafter suppress the illegally obtained evidence. However, Thomas is not entitled to a hearing on his Motion to Suppress because a hearing is not required unless the movant demonstrates a significant factual dispute that must be resolved. United States v. Sophie, 900 F.2d 1064, 1071 (7th Cir. 1990); see also United States v. Moreland, 703 F.3d 976, 981-82 (7th Cir. 2012) (defendants' request for evidentiary hearing “properly refused because they were unable to specify any assertion in the government's affidavits that they could contest with evidence”). Thomas raised no disputed issues of material fact and has not challenged the accuracy of the information articulated by law enforcement. There are no factual disputes to be resolved regarding the Motion to Suppress, so no evidentiary hearing is necessary.

         On July 20, 2017, law enforcement conducted a traffic stop of an individual (“CHS1”) and located crystal methamphetamine in CHS1's vehicle. CHS1 admitted to being involved in distributing methamphetamine in Southern Indiana. CHS1 further admitted to having three drug suppliers for multiple ounces of methamphetamine and identified Thomas as one of those sources.

         At the time of CHS1's traffic stop, a second individual (“CHS2”) was in the vehicle with CHS1. CHS2 also admitted to being involved in distributing methamphetamine in Southern Indiana. CHS2 corroborated CHS1's statement regarding three drug suppliers for multiple ounces of methamphetamine, including Thomas as one of those sources. CHS2 reported being present on at least five occasions during the previous six-month period where Thomas delivered multiple ounce quantities of methamphetamine to CHS1. CHS2 described Thomas and stated that Thomas drove a black Chevrolet Impala with Kentucky license plates when he delivered methamphetamine to CHS1 and CHS2. CHS2 also reported that Thomas delivered methamphetamine to CHS2 and CHS1 at locations in Louisville, Kentucky, and in Southern Indiana.

         Later that same day-July 20, 2017-under the direction and supervision of law enforcement, CHS1 called Thomas on his cell phone and arranged to purchase approximately six ounces of methamphetamine at a location in Georgetown, Indiana. The phone call was recorded. Thomas agreed to provide CHS1 approximately six ounces of methamphetamine, and he would deliver the methamphetamine to CHS1 at a McDonald's in Georgetown, Indiana, if CHS1 could get transportation to that location. CHS1 then placed a second recorded telephone call to Thomas' cell phone to confirm the meeting location. Thomas again answered the phone, and they agreed to meet at the McDonald's in Georgetown in approximately thirty minutes. They agreed that Thomas would charge CHS1 $450.00 per ounce for the methamphetamine.

         Law enforcement officers began surveillance near the McDonald's in Georgetown. Law enforcement and CHS1 were in a vehicle together, and they observed the scene from a distance so that CHS1 could identify Thomas' vehicle for law enforcement when it arrived. CHS1 and CHS2 had reported earlier that Thomas' vehicle was a black Chevrolet Impala with Kentucky license plates. During the surveillance, officers observed a black Chevrolet Impala in the drive-thru lane at the McDonald's. CHS1 positively identified Thomas in the vehicle as the individual who would be bringing the methamphetamine. The law enforcement officers then conducted an investigative stop on Thomas' vehicle and detained Thomas at the McDonald's for further investigation. Thomas was placed inside a Harrison County Sherriff's vehicle and transported across the street to an adjacent parking lot.

         An officer conducted a systematic search of Thomas' car with K-9 “Bob, ” a certified narcotic detection dog. During the search, “Bob” indicated on both the front and rear door seams of Thomas' vehicle. After the positive alert, “Bob” was released inside the vehicle. During the K-9 search of the interior of the vehicle, “Bob” indicated to presence of a controlled substance inside the vehicle on the passenger side floorboard area and on the driver side door panel. After the positive K-9 alert, law enforcement officers searched Thomas' vehicle. During the interior search of the vehicle when an officer opened the glovebox, white latex gloves containing three clear plastic baggies containing a crystal-like substance suspected to be methamphetamine and two firearms fell from the glovebox onto the floorboard of the vehicle. Thomas was arrested following the search and seizure of the drugs and firearms. Thereafter, he was indicted on August 16, 2017 by a federal grand jury for Count One, Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine and Count Two, Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime. (Filing No. 12.) On December 21, 2018 a Superseding Indictment was filed. (Filing No. 69.)

         II. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

         Thomas moves to suppress all evidence recovered by the Government following the illegal stop, seizure, arrest, and search of his person at the restaurant in Georgetown, Indiana.

         Thomas asserts,

The initial stop of the defendant by Indiana State Police on 06.20.17 was illegal because there was no reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or judicial warrant to detain, seize, arrest or search him. The defendant at the time was traveling in a 2013 black Chevrolet Impala. Following the illegal stop, seizure, search and arrest of Mr. Thomas, agents of the government now seek to introduce into evidence two (2) handguns (Ruger, Model P90DC, Serial Number: ...

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