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United States v. Hill

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan

November 27, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Gary Hill and Monique Dunbar, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Sean F. Cox United States District Court Judge.

         Defendants Gary Hill and Monique Dunbar have filed motions to suppress the search warrant in this case, challenging the validity of the underlying affidavit. They also seek a Franks hearing. Additionally, Defendant Dunbar has filed motions to dismiss the indictment and for severance of Defendants at trial. For the reasons below, the Court DENIES Defendant Hill's Motion to Suppress and Defendant Dunbar's Motion to Suppress and Motion to Dismiss. The Court also DENIES Defendant Dunbar's Motion to Sever WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         BACKGROUND

         Defendants Dunbar and Hill have been in a relationship for about three to five years. Hill would spend the night with Dunbar at her residence, which is located at 25417 St. James, Southfield, Michigan, about one time per week and sometimes on weekends. Hill had a key to the residence and sometimes gave Dunbar money for rent.

         On January 29, 2017, FBI Task Force Officer Craig Fitzpatrick served as affiant for an affidavit in support of an application for a search warrant for Dunbar's residence. Fitzpatrick has over 22 years of experience in the investigation and prosecution of individuals involved in drug trafficking. The following facts are taken from the warrant affidavit.

         In March 2016, the FBI, based on information from a confidential source, began investigating a narcotics trafficking network involving Defendant Hill, Larry Stewart, and Leroy Hooker. Id. at ¶ 7. On November 3, 2016, surveillance observed Hooker give Stewart a dark colored shopping bag in a Toledo mall parking lot. After getting the bag, Stewart drove to Hill's residence in Lathrup Village, Michigan. Id. at 8. Upon arriving, Stewart took the bag inside. Id. On November 17, 2016, Stewart again traveled from Toledo to Hill's Lathrup Village residence and delivered another bag. Id. at ¶ 11.

         On December 2, 2016, Hill and Stewart met at Somerset Mall and went to Hill's Detroit condominium. Id. at ¶ 12. When Stewart left, he loaded an item into his trunk and traveled to Hooker's location in Toledo. Id. Stewart removed a bag from his trunk and entered Hooker's house. Id. Shortly thereafter, Hooker exited his residence, went to his trunk, and departed. Id. Law enforcement stopped Hooker and seized a duffle bag containing six kilograms of suspected cocaine and a large quantity of suspected heroin from the trunk of the vehicle. Id.

         On January 23, 2017, Hill purchased a prepaid cellphone under an alias with an address not associated with him. Id. at ¶ 20.

         On January 27, 2017, Hill arrived at the St. James residence. Id. at ¶ 22. At 1:27 p.m., Hill exited the premises carrying a large weighted black garbage bag and placed it into the trunk of his vehicle. Id. Hill drove to a Rite Aid parking lot in Royal Oak, where he met with another individual waiting in a Ford Edge. Id. Hill exited his vehicle and went and opened his trunk. Id. He removed “two sandwich sized clear plastic baggies containing a white substance from a black bag located inside the truck [sic].” Id. He placed the bags in his coat pocket and entered the passenger seat of the Ford Edge. Id. Shortly thereafter, Hill exited the vehicle carrying a white grocery bag wrapped tightly around what appeared to be a solid object. Id. Hill placed this bag in the trunk of his vehicle. Id.

         On January 28, 2017, Hill was identified by GPS vehicle tracker at the St. James address. Def. Ex. A., ¶ 26. Hill then left and drove to a location which law enforcement believed to be a known meet spot for narcotics transactions. Id.

         Based on the above, the affiant requested a warrant authorizing a search of the St. James residence. On January 29, 2017, Magistrate Judge Patti authorized the search warrant. The FBI executed the warrant the next day and seized a kilogram of cocaine, scales, and approximately $86, 000.

         On March 29, 2017 Defendants were indicted on one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). Defendant Hill has filed a Motion to Suppress the Search Warrant (Doc. # 29). Defendant Dunbar has filed a Motion to Suppress the Warrant, a Motion to Dismiss the Indictment, and a Motion to Sever (Doc. # 28 and 30). The Government has responded (Doc. # 31 and 32) and the Court held a hearing on November 17, 2017.

         ANALYSIS

         I. Whether Defendants are Entitled to a ...


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