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United States of America v. Gezo Goeong Edwards

September 16, 2012

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
GEZO GOEONG EDWARDS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colleen Kollar-kotelly United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Presently before the Court is Defendant Gezo Edwards' [390] Motion to Reconsider Denial of Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained from Interception of Wire Communications. The Court previously denied Defendant Edwards's [244] Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained from Interception of Wire Communications and Seizure of Electronic Communications, which sought to suppress evidence obtained pursuant to a court-ordered wiretap interception of three cellular telephones purportedly operated by Defendant William Bowman. 7/26/12 Order, ECF No. [353]; 7/26/12 Mem. Opin., ECF No. [354].*fn1 As indicated on the record during the September 7, 2012 Status Hearing, Defendants Bowman and Henry Williams join in Defendant Edwards' motion. Upon consideration of the pleadings,*fn2 the relevant legal authorities, and the record as a whole, Defendant Edwards' motion to reconsider is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

The Court detailed the factual history relevant to Defendant Edwards' motion at length in its Memorandum Opinion denying Edwards' initial motion, 7/26/12 Mem. Opin. at 2-6, and incorporates herein that opinion in full. In short, as part of its investigation of the charged conspiracy, the Government obtained orders authorizing the interception of wire communications to and from three cellular telephones allegedly operated by Defendant Bowman, referred to as "TT1," "TT2," and "TT3." Id. at 2-4. The Government obtained the relevant authorizations for TT2 on January 13, February 11, March 11, and April 8, 2011. Id. at 4-5. The affidavit filed in support of the applications, signed by FBI Special Agent Timothy S. Pak, did not disclose Defendant Edwards as a possible target of the interception until the April 8, 2011 application. Id. at 5. The Government obtained authorizations for TT3 on March 19 and April 15, 2011. Defendant Edwards was disclosed as a possible target of the TT3 interception in both applications. Id. All three defendants are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more cocaine. Superseding Indictment, ECF No. [28], at 2-3. Defendants Edwards and Bowman face a number of additional narcotics distribution and/or weapons charges. Id. at 3-7.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, 18 U.S.C. § 2510 et seq., provides that a district court may authorize an application for interception of certain wire, oral, and/or electronic communications. 18 U.S.C. § 2518. Section 2518(1) sets forth the requirements for applications seeking Title III authorizations, and provides that applications must include, among other information:

(b) a full and complete statement of the facts and circumstances relied upon by the applicant, to justify his belief that an order should be issued, including . . . (iv) the identity of the person, if known, committing the offense and whose communications are to be intercepted; [and]

(e) a full and complete statement of the facts concerning all previous applications known to the individual authorizing and making the application, made to any judge for authorization to intercept, or for approval of interceptions of, wire, oral, or electronic communications involving any of the same persons, facilities or places specified in the application, and the action taken by the judge on each such application[.]

18 U.S.C. § 2518(1)(b), (e). Defendant Edwards, as an "aggrieved person," see 18 U.S.C. § 2510(11), moves to suppress the contents of the interceptions on the basis that the communications were "unlawfully intercepted." 18 U.S.C. § 2518(10)(a).

III. DISCUSSION

Although styled as a motion to reconsider, Defendant Edwards' motion is more accurately characterized as a renewed motion to suppress insofar as it raises new arguments to support his contention, as opposed to identifying new factual information or errors in the Court's previous decision. The Court agrees with the Government that the Defendant could and should have raised these arguments in the context of his initial motion, and thus the motion to reconsider is untimely under the Court's schedule for pretrial motions. However, the Court declines to deny Defendant's motion outright on this basis. All of the parties in this case, including the Government, have failed to comply with Court-ordered deadlines regarding pretrial motions at various points, and the Government has not articulated any prejudice from the timing of the Defendant's motion to reconsider. Accordingly, the Court shall address the merits of the Defendant's motion.

The Defendant does not take issue with the Court's previous findings that (1) the affidavits filed in support of the Title III applications in this case met the "necessity requirement" articulated in Section 2518; (2) the affidavits did not omit any material information; and (3) the Government complied with the statutory "minimization requirement" in carrying out the authorized interceptions. Def.'s Mot. at 2 n.1. Instead, the Defendant argues that the TT2 applications submitted on January 13, February 11, and March 11 failed to meet the statutory requirements found in Section 2518(b)(iv) and (e) because they (1) failed to disclose Defendant Edwards as a possible target of the interception; and (2) failed to disclose previous authorizations for interceptions involving Defendant Edwards. The Defendant also for the first time responds to the Government's contention that the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule would apply in the event the Court finds the interceptions at issue were unlawful. For the reasons explained below, the Court finds the Government was not required to disclose Defendant Edwards as a possible target, nor was it obligated to disclose previous authorizations for interceptions concerning Defendant Edwards. Accordingly, the Court does not reach the parties' arguments regarding the good faith exception.

A. The Government Was Not Obligated To Disclose Defendant Edwards As A Possible Target On TT2 Prior to April 8, 2011

The Defendant initially argues that pursuant to Section 2518(1)(b)(iv), the Government should have disclosed Defendant Edwards as a person "committing the offense and whose communications are to be intercepted" at the very least in the March 2011 application for TT2. The Supreme Court interpreted this section to require that a wiretap application name an individual if the Government (1) "has probable cause to believe that the individual is engaged in the criminal activity under investigation"; and (2) "expects to intercept the individual's conversations over the target telephone." United States v. Donovan, 429 U.S. 413, 428 (1977). The Donovan court further held that a violation of Section 2518(1)(b)(iv) is not a basis for suppressing the intercepted communications. Id. at 439-440. As such, the Defendant's success on this argument alone would not justify granting the ...


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