January 24, 2019
from the United States District Court for the Central
District of Illinois. No. 2:17-cr-20007 - Colin S.
Manion, Brennan, and Scudder, Circuit Judges.
SCUDDER, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
in Champaign, Illinois obtained warrants to search two
apartments connected to Samuel Yarber. The searches turned up
drugs and handguns and ultimately led to Yarber's
convictions for federal narcotics and firearms offenses.
Along the way, Yarber challenged the warrant to search one of
the apartments as unsupported by probable cause. While the
warrant affidavit fell short in one respect-it did not
establish that Yarber lived at the apartment and thus could
not support an inference that evidence of his drug-dealing
would be kept there-it nonetheless contained other facts
sufficient to establish probable cause. And in any event the
police relied in good faith upon the warrant. On this record,
then, we affirm.
enforcement undertook an investigation after receiving
information from a confidential source that Yarber was
selling drugs in the Champaign-Urbana area. The confidential
source bought cocaine from Yarber on four separate occasions
near the same intersection in Champaign. The police observed
Yarber before and after each transaction. And each time,
Yarber drove a white Dodge Charger, which was registered to
his girlfriend. Immediately following two of the controlled
buys, Yarber drove to his girlfriend's apartment in
Champaign. The police surveilled the apartment on three
additional occasions, and all three times saw the white Dodge
Charger parked in front. On one occasion they saw Yarber exit
the Dodge Charger and go inside the apartment.
this information was set forth in an affidavit presented to a
Champaign County Circuit Court judge in support of the
police's request for a search warrant. The attesting
officer also stated that, based on his training and
experience, drug dealers often use vehicles registered to
someone else to evade detection by law enforcement. The
Champaign County judge found that these facts established the
requisite probable cause to search the Champaign apartment
and issued the warrant. By its terms, the warrant authorized
the police to search for, among other things, drugs, drug
paraphernalia, and suspected proceeds from drug transactions.
primary issue in this appeal turns on what the affidavit did
not say. Nowhere did the affidavit state that Yarber lived at
the Champaign apartment or even that he stayed there
overnight. To the contrary, it referred to an altogether
different apartment-located in Urbana, Illinois-as
Yarber's "residence." Yarber seized on this
omission and moved to suppress the evidence discovered during
the search of the Champaign apartment. He argued that, by
establishing no nexus between the drug dealing activities and
the apartment, the affidavit failed to establish probable
district court thought otherwise. The court's primary
reason for finding probable cause was that the police
connected Yarber and the white Dodge Charger to the apartment
and saw him drive there immediately after two of the four
controlled buys. The district court further observed that the
Champaign County judge who issued the search warrant could
have inferred that Yarber kept evidence of his drug dealing
in his girlfriend's apartment to reduce the possibility
of connecting him to illegal activity. Alternatively, the
district court determined that the exception of United
States v. Leon would apply because the police acted in
good faith when seeking and executing the warrant. See 468
U.S. 897, 920-22 (1984).
the court denied his motion to suppress, Yarber pleaded
guilty to drug possession with the intent to distribute, 21
U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) & (b)(1)(C), and to possession of
a firearm by a felon, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). He proceeded
to trial on the remaining charge of possession of a firearm
in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, 18 U.S.C.
§ 924(c), and was convicted by a jury. The district
court imposed a sentence of 420 months' imprisonment.
determining the sufficiency of a warrant affidavit, we focus
on the totality of the information presented to the Champaign
County judge. See United States v. Peck, 317 F.3d
754, 756 (7th Cir. 2003). We afford "great
deference" to the probable cause finding made by the
judge who evaluated the warrant application in the first
instance and will uphold that determination so long as there
is a "substantial basis" for concluding "that
a search would uncover evidence of wrongdoing."
Illinois v. Gates,462 U.S. 213, 236 (1983). So,
too, have we consistently held that "probable cause
'does not require direct evidence linking a crime to a
particular place.'" United States v.
Zamudio,909 F.3d 172, 175 (7th Cir. 2018) (quoting
United States v. Anderson,450 F.3d 294, 303 (7th
Cir. 2006)). Rather, a warrant affidavit "need only
contain facts that, given the nature of the evidence sought
and the crime alleged, allow ...