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United States v. Myles

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

April 25, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
LUCIAN MYLES, Defendant.

          GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE [#18]

          GERSHWIN A. DRAIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On October 19, 2017, the grand jury returned an Indictment against Defendant Lucian Myles for possession with intent to distribute codeine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), possession of a stolen firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(j), and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).

         Presently before the Court is the Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence, filed on February 19, 2018. In his present motion, Defendant argues that the Government failed to establish probable cause to search an apartment and car because there was no nexus between the purported criminal activity and the locations to be searched. Defendant further asserts that probable cause was lacking because the information in the warrant's affidavit was stale. Lastly, Defendant maintains that the Government lacked a good faith belief that the warrant was reasonable.

         The Government filed a Response in Opposition on March 12, 2018. Defendant did not file a Reply in support of his Motion to Suppress. A hearing was held on April 18, 2018. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the Defendant's Motion to Suppress.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On July 16, 2017, a state court judge issued a search warrant for a Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by Defendant and for 3320 Spinnaker Lane, Apt. 6A, the apartment where Defendant and his girlfriend, Talena Cooper, resided. The Jeep was leased by J.S. Shelton, Cooper's uncle, and operated by the Defendant. The warrant was based on the affidavit of DEA Task Force Officer Brian Tillman, who had been investigating a suspected money laundering organization since January of 2017.

         The property to be searched for and seized was described in the affidavit as follows:

Any and all records (electronic or otherwise) tending to show the distribution of controlled substances or the accumulation, storage and laundering of drug proceeds in violation of State of Michigan law. To include all drug paraphernalia (i.e. diluents, packaging) and equipment (i.e. scales, presses) used in the manufacturing/handling of controlled substances, lists and records pertaining to the manufacture, possession, ownership and/or sales of controlled substances, lists and records of possession and/or ownership and/or residency of the above places to be searched, guns and ammunition, currency and coins, money counters, cell phones and/or smart phones, computer devices, police monitoring equipment, and other items which are proceeds or items which were purchased with the proceeds of the sale of controlled substances and/or money laundering activities. Also to be seized are business, tax, travel, automobile and/or financial records. Any and all records tending to identify co-conspirators and the nature/scope of a drug conspiracy.

         In his affidavit supporting the search warrant, Tillman explained that his investigation revealed that automobiles were fraudulently obtained and likely provided to individuals engaged in narcotics trafficking. The parties involved would fail to make payments on the vehicle to the legitimate lien holder and individuals associated with the drug trade would use the vehicles until they were seized by authorities or repossessed by the lien holder. One of the individuals involved in this scheme was Cooper, who ultimately led investigators to Defendant.

         On March 3, 2017, the DEA learned that Cooper was driving a white Chevrolet Malibu that had been reported stolen by a local dealership. Cooper was arrested for driving on a suspended license and possession of a stolen vehicle. During questioning, Cooper indicated that her boyfriend, Defendant Myles, had obtained the car through a “scam” and that Defendant sometimes stayed at his friend's place in the Harbor Town Apartments.

         In April of 2017, a search warrant was executed to help determine the relationship of those involved in the auto fraud conspiracy. CS1 was the initial target of the search warrant, and he agreed to cooperate with the DEA in the hope that he would receive a reduced sentence on any potential criminal charges. CS1 identified Defendant as a large scale drug trafficker residing in the Harbor Town Apartments. He provided Defendant's cellular telephone number to investigators. CS1 indicated that Defendant drove a Cadillac Escalade which had a hidden compartment in the center console. CS1 stated that Defendant hid a firearm and a large amount of money in the secret compartment. CS1 also informed investigators that Defendant is associated with numerous persons involved with laundering money, as well as selling oxycodone and codeine syrup in Ohio and Kentucky.

         Tillman subsequently obtained utility records associated with Cooper and discovered that Cooper recently moved to a new apartment in the Harbor Town Apartment complex, located at 3320 Spinnaker Lane, Apt. 6A, Detroit, Michigan. Tillman opined that Cooper was serving as the renter nominee for Defendant, however the affidavit is silent as to the basis supporting this conclusion other than that in Tillman's training and experience, he has known drug traffickers to employ nominees for their residence and utilities.

         In May of 2017, Tillman visited an Instagram account purportedly maintained by the Defendant. Tillman observed a photograph of 20 unopened 16 ounce plastic bottles of Promethazine Hydrochloride and Codeine Phosphate Syrup with gold chains and a high end men's watch around the bottle. The Instagram account also contained pictures displaying a large amount of currency and high end, customized diamond jewelry. Tillman's review also revealed that the Instagram account is associated with the same phone number provided by CS1. Tillman showed one of the pictures to CS1 who indicated that it was taken at Defendant's and Cooper's former apartment at the Harbor Town Apartment complex. In the ...


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