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United States v. Glay

June 30, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
WILLIAM GLAY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John D. Bates United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

Before the Court is [72] defendant William Glay's motion to suppress tangible evidence seized during a March 6, 2007 search of 12504 Great Park Circle, Apartment #103 in Germantown, Maryland ("Great Park Circle address"). In February 2007, Montgomery County, Maryland police obtained an arrest warrant for Glay charging him with one count of theft, two counts of identity theft, and one count of theft conspiracy. On March 2, 2007, Detective Susan Mercer filed an application for a warrant to search the Great Park Circle address and attached a six-page affidavit in support of the application.

The affidavit begins by describing two instances in July and September 2006 where suspects had unsuccessfully attempted to pass counterfeit checks. Mercer Aff. at 1-2. Evidence obtained from the investigation into those episodes revealed that Glay had supplied the counterfeit checks for the September 2006 attempt. Id. at 2. The affidavit then avers that Glay had been observed opening two bank accounts in September 2006 using false identification. Id. at 2-3. In December 2006, forged checks were deposited into those accounts, and in January 2007, a bank employee confessed to having provided Glay with signature cards and checks, thus enabling those forged checks to be created. Id. at 3. Another counterfeit check was deposited into Glay's account in February 2007. Id. at 4.

The affidavit then provides some additional background as to Glay. In January 2004, he had opened a bank account, providing an address on Alta Oaks Drive. Id. The lessee of the Alta Oaks apartment was Emily Jallah, the mother of Glay's child. Id. In July 2006, Glay was arrested (for unspecified reasons) driving a car registered to Jallah. Id. When arrested, Glay provided two driver's licenses, one from Maryland and one from Virginia. Id. Both displayed Glay's photo. The Maryland license, which listed an address on Dragonfire Way, provided 1950 as his year of birth, whereas the Virginia license provided a 1976 year of birth and an address on Lewis Chapel Circle. Id.

Next, the affidavit describes surveillance of Glay conducted in February 2007. The surveillance was conducted at the Great Park Circle address, which Jallah began leasing in December 2006. Id. at 5. Two cars, both registered in Jallah's name, were parked in front, and Glay was observed driving both on different days. Id. Glay was seen exiting the apartment between 8 and 8:30 a.m., and "[o]n several occasions" Glay was observed coming out with a young child and "leaving as if taking the child to day care on his way to work." Id. "These observations indicate that Glay is residing with Jallah at the Great Park Circle address." Id. Yet Glay appeared to be using Dragonfire Way as a business address during that same period. Id.

Mercer sought a warrant to search the Great Park Circle address because of Glay's connection with counterfeiting and forgery and because Glay was observed spending significant amounts of time at the Great Park Circle address. In averring that there was probable cause to believe that evidence of Glay's criminal activity would be found through a search of the Great Park Circle address, Mercer stated as follows:

Given Glay's use of both the Dragonfire Way and Great Park Circle address[es], Your Affiant believes each address may be being used to further Glay's fraudulent activity by being a location where stolen identity information is stored, fraudulent checks, identification, etc. are manufactured, and fruits of the crimes of identity fraud are hidden. . . . The above shows that Glay is using different identifications and multiple addresses in an attempt to conceal his true identity and location.

Mercer Aff. at 5.

The warrant was issued on March 2, 2007, and Glay was arrested on March 6, 2007. An hour after he was arrested, the police executed the search warrant at the Great Park Circle address and seized numerous items.

ANALYSIS

Glay argues that the fruits of the search of the Great Park Circle address should be suppressed because the affidavit submitted in support of the search warrant was insufficient to provide probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime would be found there. Glay also argues that the search is not saved by United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984), which held that suppression is inappropriate when officers reasonably rely on a deficient warrant in good faith. Upon review of Mercer's affidavit, the memoranda submitted by the parties, the hearing held and testimony heard on May 14, 2009, and the entire record herein, Glay's motion to suppress will be denied.

I. Adequacy of Affidavit

An affidavit in support of a warrant must establish probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that there is a nexus between the place to be searched, the things to be seized, and the underlying criminal activity. See 2 Wayne R. LaFave, Search and Seizure: A Treatise on the Fourth Amendment, § 3.7(d) (4th ed. 2004); see also Warden, Md. Penitentiary v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294, 307 (1967) ("There must, of course, be a nexus . . . between the item to be seized and criminal behavior."). Glay argues that the affidavit in support of the search warrant in this case failed to establish this nexus element for two reasons: first, because the affidavit does not establish that Glay was residing at the Great Park Circle address; and second, because the only nexus between Glay's criminal activity and the Great Park Circle address is Mercer's stated belief that the address was being used to store and manufacture counterfeit currency and identity information.

On the first issue, Glay characterizes the affidavit as establishing only that he was at the Great Park Circle address on one occasion. See Glay's Supp. Mot. at 3 ("Based on the information contained in the affidavit, the only connection was the observation of [Glay] leaving the residence on one morning."). But the affidavit clearly establishes a greater connection than that. The affidavit avers that Glay has a long involvement with Jallah, the mother of his child, who officially resides at the Great Park Circle address. Mercer Aff. at 4. For several years before the search, Glay used Jallah's car and received mail at her previous residence. Id. As to Glay's presence specifically at the Great Park Circle address, the affidavit states that over the course of a month, Glay was observed driving two cars parked at the Great Park Circle home (both registered in Jallah's name) on different days. Id. at 5. "On several occasions" he was observed coming out of the apartment between 8 and 8:30 a.m. and bringing his child to ...


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