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United States v. Fisher

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

May 9, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
EUGENE FISHER, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS PHYSICAL EVIDENCE AND FOR A FRANKS HEARING [DOCS 439 and 883].

          GEORGE CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court on defendant Eugene Fisher's renewed motion for a Franks hearing and to suppress physical evidence seized as a result of the execution of a search warrant at 18803 Lamont, Detroit, Michigan on November 12, 2015. The court held oral argument on the motion on April 30, 2018. For the reasons stated on the record and further in this order, defendant's motion for a Franks hearing and to suppress evidence is DENIED.

         On November 3, 2015, FBI Violent Gang Task Force (“VGTF”) Special Agent Vincente Ruiz (“S.A. Ruiz”) submitted a search warrant application and affidavit in support to search the premises located at 18803 Lamont, Detroit, Michigan. Magistrate Judge Stafford issued a search warrant based on the application and affidavit. During the search of the property, which was the residence of defendant Eugene Fisher, VGTF agents seized one Ruger semiautomatic .45 caliber handgun, assorted ammunition and other items which the government intends to introduce at trial. Defendant moves to suppress the evidence seized, arguing that the seizure violates his Fourth Amendment rights because the affidavit failed to establish probable cause that evidence of a crime would be found at the premises.

         The following facts are taken from the affidavit submitted with the application for search warrant submitted to Magistrate Judge Stafford. Law enforcement became aware of a party to be held in memory of Devon McClure, aka “Block”, a deceased Seven Mile Blood (“SMB”) gang member, at the Crazy House Adult Entertainment on September 25, 2015. (Aff. ¶18). The party, known as “Block Day”, was announced on social media. Agents reviewed social media accounts of Seven Mile Bloods members, who were communicating through social media to coordinate their arrival at the party.

         On September 25, 2015, members of the VGTF conducted surveillance in the area of the Crazy Horse. Steve Arthur Jr. and Billy Arnold, among other Seven Mile Bloods members, were seen arriving at the club. Arthur and Arnold departed the Crazy Horse in a blue 2002 Chevrolet Trailblazer with Ohio license plate GJH1851, which had previously been reported stolen. Detroit Police Department officers attempted a traffic stop and pursuit ensued. When the car was stopped, Arthur attempted to flee on foot but was quickly apprehended. Arnold was arrested inside the vehicle. The officers recovered a Bushmaster .223 caliber rifle, with a fully loaded 40 round magazine from the rear compartment of the Trailblazer. Five cell phones were recovered inside the vehicle and another one was located on Arnold's person. (Aff. ¶20-21).

         The affiant, S.A. Ruiz, explained that through his experience and training involving violent gangs he has “learned that gang members who use their own firearms in gang war situations retain access to those firearms for protection from retaliation and/or frequently pass those firearms to fellow gang members for safekeeping, in order to prevent the weapons from being seized by law enforcement officers pursuant to a search of their residences, vehicles, or persons.”

         A confidential human source (“CHS”) provided information to the affiant on October 14, 2015, that Arthur and Arnold picked up the Bushmaster .223 caliber rifle from Eugene Fisher's house, prior to arriving at the Crazy Horse. The CHS, who is now known to be co-defendant Steven Arthur, informed the affiant that in addition to the Bushmaster rifle he saw two other pistols with extended magazines at this location. The CHS told the affiant that it is common practice within the Seven Mile Bloods to have firearms available to multiple members at a stash house. According to the affiant, the CHS provided information about a previous shooting involving the Seven Mile Bloods that proved to be reliable. (Aff. ¶22).

         The affiant corroborates 18803 Lamont as Fisher's address by citing a Detroit Police Department report from September 8, 2015 in which Fisher reported his electrical meter stolen from 18803 Lamont. In that report, Fisher provided his phone number as 313-728-0167.

         To corroborate the fact that Arnold and Arthur picked up the .223 Bushmaster rifle prior to going to the Crazy Horse, the affidavit quotes three text messages from September 25, 2015 between Arnold's phone, taken during his arrest (and accessed pursuant to a search warrant), and Fisher's phone number:

- 10:22 PM from Arnold to 313-728-0167: “I'm coming to grab something be close”
- 10:26 PM from 313-728-0167 to Arnold: “At crazyhorse”
- 10:27 PM from Arnold to 313-728-0167: “I need to get in yo crib and grab my hook ups”.

         The affiant states that these text messages are consistent with the CHS's information about Arnold and Arthur picking up the Bushmaster .223 caliber rifle at Fisher's house prior to arriving at the Crazy Horse, and with the fact of Arnold's arrest that night while in possession of the same firearm. In this context, the affiant believes the text message conversation to be a discussion of Arnold making arrangements to pick up the Bushmaster .223 caliber rifle from Fisher's house.

         A jail call was made by Arnold to 313-728-0167, Fisher's phone number, on October 1, 2015. The unidentified male from 313-728-0167 asks Arnold if anyone is talking about “that night.” He further asks, “He ain't say anything about where y'all went before y'all got to the club did he?” The affiant suggests there is a logical inference, in context with other information, that ...


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