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United States v. Defelice

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division

April 8, 2019


          OPINION & ORDER

          Ann Aiken United States District Judge.

         Defendant Frank DeFelice moves to suppress evidence obtained by law enforcement during a search of his fifth-wheel trailer and any statements made to a detective at the Marion County Jail on September 13, 2016. The Court held a suppression hearing on November 14, 2018. For the reasons that follow, defendant's Motion to Suppress (doc. 41) is DENIED.


         In 2016, the Albany Police Department Street Crimes Unit began to investigate methamphetamine delivery in the Albany area. They identified Sasha Davidson as a person who was dealing methamphetamine in Albany. Both confidential and named sources, including Davidson, identified defendant as her supplier. Through further investigation, police obtained the address of defendant's residence: 6094 Silverton Road NE in Salem.

         In April 2016, police stopped Davidson in Albany in a Gold Cadillac Escalade that was registered to defendant and arrested her for driving while suspended.

         In August 2016, police stopped Davidson in another car that she identified as belonging to defendant. During the stop, police recovered methamphetamine. Davidson told the police that she was returning from defendant's house and provided them with his phone number. Police obtained a court order to monitor both Davidson's and defendant's phones.

         The phone monitoring revealed two significant locations in Salem: defendant's residence at the Silverton Road address and a space in a campground and trailer park located at 3700 Hager's Grove Road SE. Police observed the following sequence of phone pings: When Davidson would leave Albany and travel to the Silverton Road address, defendant would leave the Hager's Grove Road address and travel to the Silverton Road address. Then, Davidson would head back south to Albany.

         On September 12, 2016, defendant's phone pinged at his house and then in the area of the campground and then back at his house. That evening, police observed Davidson leave defendant's house. They stopped her car and recovered methamphetamine and a firearm.

         Just after midnight on September 13, 2016, police executed a search warrant at defendant's house and detained defendant and two other occupants. At approximately 12:50 AM, Albany Police Detective Curtis Bell took custody of defendant and advised him of his Miranda rights. When Detective Bell asked defendant if he understood his rights and had any questions, defendant answered that he understood his rights and had no questions.

         Detective Bell then placed defendant in the back of his patrol vehicle and drove him to a nearby property owned by Marion County Public Works. There, Detective Bell read the search warrant to defendant and two others who had been detained at the house and had been driven to the Marion County Public Works Property by other officers. Detective Bell advised all three of their Miranda rights and asked if they understood or had any questions. They all responded that they understood their rights and did not have any questions.

         Detective Bell then separated the parties, turned on a voice recorder and told defendant that their conversation was being recorded. He reminded defendant that he had read the search warrant and asked whether defendant had any questions. Defendant responded, "No." He also asked defendant to confirm that he had been advised of his Miranda rights, which defendant did, and asked if defendant had any questions about those rights. Again, defendant said that he did not have any question. The interrogation continued until 1:00 AM, when defendant refused to answer one of Detective Bell's questions and stated that he would not answer any further questions until he spoke with his lawyer. Bell turned off the recorder and ended the interrogation. Defendant and Bell then had an unrecorded conversation about defendant cooperating with Bell and engaging in a controlled buy. Defendant declined to cooperate in this way.

         Once Detective Bell was advised that the house was safe, he returned to the house with defendant. Defendant sat in the living room until the search was completed. Detective Bell then drove defendant to the Marion County Jail, where defendant was held on possession and delivery of methamphetamine based on evidence that had been obtained during the search as well as evidence that had been seized from Davidson on September 12, 2016.

         Although the items seized during the search provided some evidence of drug dealing, the search did not reveal the significant quantities of narcotics and guns that the detectives had expected to find. That inconsistency led detectives to believe that defendant was storing the contraband elsewhere. So, later in the day on September 13, 2016, Detective Bell reviewed the phone monitoring data and observed defendant's pattern of travelling between his house and the campground on Hager's Grove Road.

         Another detective called the campground and learned from the office clerk that defendant rented space F-10 there. Detective Bell visited the campground and obtained copies of defendant's rental contract, which was completed on August 26, 2016. Detective Bell also visited space F-10, where he observed a fifth-wheel trailer and defendant's gold Cadillac Escalade, which Davidson had been driving back in April.

         After visiting the campground, Detective Bell returned to the Marion County Jail around 4:00 pm. He arranged for jail deputies to move defendant to a table and chairs placed at the top of a stairwell outside of a room for inmates to speak with visitors. According to defendant, when the deputies went to his cell to move him, defendant told them that he did not want to speak to Detective Bell, and that he wanted to speak to his attorney. The deputies responded that defendant could take that up with Detective Bell.

         When defendant arrived at the table, Detective Bell reintroduced himself, reminded defendant that he had previously been read his Miranda rights, and acknowledged that defendant had invoked his right to counsel. Accordingly, Detective Bell stated that he would not ask questions about the investigation. Defendant acknowledged that he had been read his Miranda rights. Detective Bell then sought to obtain defendant's consent to search the campground site. During the conversation, several jail deputies walked through the area, but there were no other witnesses. Defendant was not handcuffed and ate his dinner during the interview. Ultimately, defendant signed a consent to search form and released the key to his trailer to Detective Bell. The entire interaction lasted about seventy-five minutes. Detective Bell did not bring a voice recorder to the jail and did not record the conversation.

         During the conversation, Detective Bell told defendant about the discovery of the trailer and vehicle at the campground, that he had probable cause to believe that defendant was operating a stash house in the trailer, based on the phone monitoring data, the lease agreement and other evidence that Bell had obtained during his investigation at the campground, the Cadillac's association with Davidson, and information from a confidential informant that ...

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