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United States v. Collier

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

December 6, 2016

D-1 KEITH COLLIER, Defendant.


          John Corbett O'Meara United States District Judge.

         Before the court are several pretrial motions filed by Defendant. The court heard oral argument on December 1, 2016, and took the matter under advisement.


         After receiving information that Defendant Keith Collier was involved in drug trafficking, the Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”) began an investigation. DEA Special Agent Bryan Sartori applied for a search warrant for two locations: Defendant's residence on Summit Drive in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and a house on Montana Street in Detroit. See Govt. Ex. A (search warrant affidavit and warrant). The search warrant affidavit was based in part upon information learned from several confidential informants. See id.

         On May 21, 2015, DEA agents executed search warrants at Defendant's residence in Farmington Hills as well as at the house on Montana Street in Detroit. At the Farmington Hills address, agents found two handguns and approximately $200, 000 in cash. They also found mail addressed to Collier and a water bill for the Montana Street address. At the Montana Street house, they found a loaded handgun, heroin, crack and powdered cocaine, and Fentanyl, as well as drug packaging materials and latex gloves, zip lock bags, a strainer, rubber bands, tape razors, face masks, a coffee grinder, measuring cups, and cutting agents.

         At the time the search warrants were executed, Collier was not at either house and was not arrested. The DEA sent items found at the Montana Street address to the Michigan State Police for DNA testing. On October 2, 2015, the Michigan State Police confirmed that Collier's DNA was found in one of the used face masks. After a criminal complaint was issued, Collier was arrested on November 19, 2015.

         On December 3, 2015, Collier was indicted on five counts: felon in possession of two firearms found at the Farmington Hills residence; possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin; possession with intent to distribute cocaine; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and felon in possession of a firearm found at the Montana Street address.


         Defendant has filed several pretrial motions seeking discovery and to suppress evidence. See Docket Nos. 27-32.

         I. Motion for Disclosure of Confidential Informant

         Defendant seeks the disclosure of one of the confidential informants who provided information underlying the search warrant, “DEA 3.” In April 2015, DEA 3 initiated a controlled purchase of heroin from Defendant through a third party. Although information gleaned from this purchase was used in the search warrant affidavit, Defendant is not charged with a crime regarding DEA 3's controlled purchase of heroin. Rather, the charges against Defendant derive from the guns and drugs seized during the execution of the search warrants at the Farmington Hills and Montana Street locations.

         Under similar circumstances, the Sixth Circuit has held that the government need not disclose the identity of the confidential informant. See United States v. Ray, 803 F.3d 244, 274 (6th Cir. 2015). The government has a “limited privilege” to withhold the identity of persons who provide information to law enforcement. “When ‘disclosure of an informer's identity, or of the contents of his communication, is relevant and helpful to the defense of an accused, or is essential to a fair determination of a cause, the privilege must give way.'” Ray, 803 F.3d at 273 (quoting Roviaro v. United States, 353 U.S. 53, 60-61 (1957)).

         In Ray, the court held that the identity of a confidential informant was not relevant or helpful to the defense because “the only record evidence of the role played by the CI in this case is that the CI supplied the information to law enforcement that ultimately led to a fruitful search.” The court reasoned that “Ray was not charged with any crimes related to the controlled buy, thus the CI was not involved in, and could not testify about, the crimes for which Ray was charged and could not have provided testimony to any fact relevant to those charges.” Id. at 274.

         Similarly, Defendant has not demonstrated how the identity of DEA 3 would be relevant or helpful to his defense, or how the disclosure would be “essential to a fair trial.” See Ray, 803 F.3d at 274. See also United States v. Beals, 698 F.3d 248, 270 (6th Cir. 2012) (No disclosure of confidential informant when “[t]he informant helped orchestrate the search that led to ...

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