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United States v. Dennis

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

May 30, 2017



          MARK A. GOLDSMITH United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant William Andrew Dennis's motion to suppress statements (Dkt. 17). The issue has been briefed, and the Court held a hearing on April 4, 2017.

         For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies Dennis's motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Dennis first came to the attention of authorities during an investigation into drug trafficking activity by Demarco Tempo. Gov. Resp. at 4 (Dkt. 24). Tempo is the half-brother of Dennis's late son, William Dennis, Jr., and the head of an alleged drug trafficking organization. 4/4/2017 Hr'g Tr. at 5-6 (Dkt. 28). Dennis was linked to Tempo's organization on two occasions prior to his arrest.

         In March 2016, officers observed Dennis at a vacant home on Strasburg in Detroit, Michigan, known to authorities as a primary stash location for the organization. Gov. Resp. at 5. During a June 2016 search of the home, officers discovered a deed, reflecting that Dennis had conveyed the home to a member of Tempo's organization. 4/4/2017 Hr'g Tr. at 7. Based on this association with Tempo's organization, as well as information from two sources regarding Dennis's own drug trafficking activity, officers with the Warren Police Department obtained a search warrant for Dennis's home. Gov. Resp. at 4.

         The warrant was executed on December 6, 2016. Id. at 6. In addition to finding $2, 000 and crack cocaine on Dennis's person, officers discovered two grams of crack cocaine, over 23 grams of marijuana, a digital scale, and three firearms in the home. Id. While Dennis was originally charged in a Michigan state court, a federal complaint was issued on January 13, 2017. 4/4/2017 Hr'g Tr. at 8.

         Dennis was subsequently arrested on January 18, 2017. Id. Prior to his arrest, Eric Lindblade, a task force officer with the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), conducted surveillance outside of Dennis's home in tandem with Warren police officers. Id. at 9. After Lindblade observed Dennis leave the home in his vehicle, Lindblade instructed Warren police officers to arrest him, which they did. Id. Dennis was then transferred to the DEA office in Detroit. Id. at 10.

         It was at this office where Lindblade first encountered Dennis. Id. Lindblade began by conducting a secondary pat-down of Dennis, during which he discovered a large amount of money in a plastic bag. Id. Without prompting from Lindblade, Dennis stated that the money was from a vehicle he sold in order to pay his attorney in the pending Michigan case. Id. at 10-11.

         Lindblade then asked Dennis if he understood why he was in DEA custody. Id. at 11. Dennis responded that he believed it was related to his pending state court case, for which a hearing was scheduled the following day. Id. Lindblade informed Dennis that the case had been taken over by the federal government. Id. To Lindblade's knowledge, Dennis had not been read his Miranda rights at any point during the course of his arrest. Id. at 13.

         After Dennis was fingerprinted and photographed, he was handcuffed and placed into Lindblade's vehicle in order to be transferred to the federal courthouse. Id. at 13-14. About a minute into the ride, Dennis began talking about how his son had been killed by a man named “Kenny.” Id. at 16-17. In response, Lindblade asked who Kenny was; Dennis stated that he was referring to Kenneth Sadler, a member of Tempo's organization. Id. at 17. Lindblade then asked Dennis why he believed Sadler was responsible for William Jr.'s death. Id. at 18. Dennis stated that Sadler did not like that William Jr., who was younger than Sadler, was assisting a man named “Polo” with his drug trafficking organization. Id. at 19. Lindblade then asked who Polo was, and was informed that Polo was Tempo's nickname. Id. In an effort to find out more about Tempo, Lindblade asked again who Polo referred to, and Dennis confirmed again that it was Tempo. Id. at 19-20.

         Dennis continued elaborating about Tempo, insisting that he never sold him drugs. Id. at 20. Dennis reiterated his belief that William Jr. was killed because members of Tempo's organization, including Sadler, were jealous that William Jr. was given a leadership role after Tempo was incarcerated. Id. Dennis also stated that he never sold or bought drugs from Tempo, and that his relationship to Tempo was limited to fixing up the home on Strasburg. Id. at 20-21. Dennis then stated that Tempo's organization sold heroin and crack cocaine, but that he only sold crack cocaine and he only had one customer. Id. at 25.

         After attempting to distance himself from Tempo, Dennis began explaining the presence of the firearms that were found in his home. Id. at 26. Dennis informed Lindblade that the firearms belonged to William Jr. and that they had been taken out of storage and brought to Dennis's home a couple days prior to the execution of the search warrant on December 6, 2016. Id. at 27. Dennis did not say who brought the firearms out of storage, only that he knew they were located somewhere in his home. Id.

         II. ...

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