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United States v. Knight

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

November 15, 2017

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
RODNEY KNIGHT D-4, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT KNIGHT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS (DOC. 251)

          GEORGE CARAM STEEH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Defendant Rodney Knight is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 846, and being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 19 U.S.C. § 922(g). This matter is presently before the Court on Knight's Motion to Suppress Evidence. (Doc. 251). Oral argument was held on November 13, 2017. For the reasons stated below, Knight's motion is DENIED.

         I. Background

         Zigmond allegedly led a prescription drug trafficking scheme, wherein marketers or recruiters arranged for individuals to enter Zigmond's chiropractic office as patients. (Doc. 251-2 at PageID 1941-44). The marketers made a cash payment of about $500.00 for each patient. (Doc. 251-2 at PageID 1942). Zigmond referred patients to doctors participating in the scheme. (Doc. 251-2 at PageID 1941-42). Patients visited these physicians at other locations and, without an adequate examination or medical need, received a prescription for a controlled substance; typically Oxycodone or Roxicodone. (Doc. 251-2 at PageID 1941-44).

         Knight was identified as Zigmond's “muscle;” providing protection and transportation. (Doc. 251-2 at PageID 1943). Zigmond's former driver and “money-man, ” Vladimir Zvynka, was killed during a robbery outside Zigmond's office. (Id.). Knight also allegedly “often operate[d]” as Zigmond's “second-in-command;” assisting in “scheduling appointments and accepting payments from marketers/recruiters.” (Doc. 251-2 at PageID 1947-49).

         The Government conducted a Title III wire and electronic intercept on a telephone utilized by Knight between November 6, 2014 and December 5, 2014. (Doc. 251-2 at PageID 1949). On November 18, 2014, agents intercepted calls between Knight and a marketer/recruiter regarding a request to pay for 34 doctor's appointments. (Doc. 251-2 at PageID 1949). Thirty appointments, at $500 each, cost approximately $15, 000. (Doc. 251-2 at PageID 1950). On November 19, 2014, agents observed Knight meet at the location and time stated in the intercepted call. (Id.). Within the hour, agents stopped Knight and seized $15, 000 in cash from his vehicle. (Id.).

         On April 28, 2015, the Government filed a search warrant application and 62 page affidavit for Knight's home and eight other locations. (Doc. 251-2). Based on his knowledge of the case, court authorized intercepted phone calls, and personal observations, the affiant, Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Mark Gogan, stated that Knight was a complicit member in Zigmond's organization, Zigmond's close associate, and his main patient marketer. (Doc. 251-2 at PageID 1960). Knight allegedly possessed a deep understanding and working knowledge of the day to day operation. (Id.). The affidavit stated that, given the $15, 000 seized on November 19, 2014, Knight was known to carry large sums of drug trafficking proceeds. It also relied on information provided by two confidential informants to assert that Knight was “intimately involved with the scheduling of appointments to obtain fraudulent prescriptions.” (Id.).

         The warrant application sought to search Knight's home “for evidence of his involvement in this enterprise, including evidence of his relationship with Zigmond and other associates; evidence of his financial transactions with Zigmond and his associates; evidence of firearms, ammunition or other weapons likely to be present to safeguard the drug proceeds carried by Knight, evidence of his own financial transactions involving his payments and profits from the enterprise, and evidence of drugs, prescriptions and patient records related to the enterprise.” (Doc. 251-2 at PageID 1960-61). An attachment to the affidavit further clarified the evidence sought, including:

• All records relating to the ordering, maintenance, or dispensing of controlled substances;
• Documentation of all patient appointments or scheduling and patient sign-in sheets;
• All records related to any payments received from marketers or recruiters;
• All documents constituting, concerning or relating to work and personal diaries, calendars, logs, appointment books and schedules;
• All documents relating to the seizure of ...

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