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United States of America v. andrew Dante Williams

December 17, 2012

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ANDREW DANTE WILLIAMS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable J. Garvan Murtha United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S SUPPRESSION MOTION (Doc. 16.)

I. Introduction

The Government has charged the Defendant, Andrew Dante Williams, with conspiracy to distribute oxycodone in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1). (Doc. 12.) The Defendant moves to suppress all evidence and statements obtained as a result of a vehicle stop on June 12, 2012 in White River Junction, Vermont. (Doc. 16.) He asserts that the stop violated his Fourth Amendment constitutional rights. Id. The Defendant also moves to suppress statements he made at the stop and during a subsequent interview at a police station on the grounds that law enforcement officers violated his Fifth Amendment constitutional rights. Id. The Government opposes the motion. (Doc. 20.) The Court held an evidentiary hearing on October 10, 2012 at which Special Agent Thomas Doud and Supervisory Special Agent James Mostyn testified. (Doc. 22, Suppression Hearing Transcript ("Tr.").) Following the hearing, only the Defendant filed additional briefing. (Doc. 23.)

For the reasons stated below, the Court denies the Defendant's motion.

II. Factual Background

The following facts are taken from the evidence presented at the October 10th hearing, as well as other documents submitted as evidence by the parties.

A. The Investigation

In early June 2012, agents at the Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA") learned from a confidential informant that an oxycodone supplier from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area sold large quantities of oxycodone to various distributors throughout Vermont. (Tr. at 4-5.) The informant told the agents that the supplier was a black male nicknamed "D." Id. at 5-6. The agents also learned from the informant that "D" often made these trips in rental cars with one or two black males. Id. at 8. The informant explained that "D" no longer traveled to Rutland, Vermont due to recent law enforcement activity there. Id. The informant had never met "D." Id. at 9. He obtained this information from two oxycodone distributors in Vermont. Id. at 6.

Posing as one of these distributors, the informant arranged to purchase oxycodone from "D" at a McDonald's restaurant in White River Junction, Vermont. Id. at 7, 12-13, 19. He agreed to pay twenty-five dollars per thirty-milligram pill. Id. at 18. The informant made this arrangement through phone calls and text messages to a number with a Philadelphia area code. Id. at 9. The informant provided the number to the DEA agents, who then subpoenaed its toll records. Id. The records listed numerous phone calls to Vermont, including some to the Rutland area. Id. at 10. The records did not confirm that the number belonged to "D," instead listing "Frank Sinatra" as the subscriber. Id. at 9-10.

On the night before the transaction, a DEA agent, Thomas Doud, met with representatives from several law enforcement agencies to discuss drug trafficking in the Rutland area. Id. at 4, 14. He mentioned he anticipated encountering an oxycodone supplier nicknamed "D" the following day. Id. at 14. An agent at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ("ATF"), James Mostyn, responded that, earlier in 2012, a cooperating oxycodone distributor in Rutland had described her supplier as a black male from the Philadelphia area nicknamed "D." Id. at 14, 47, 49-50. Immediately following the meeting, Agent Doud reviewed a probable cause affidavit charging the cooperating distributor. Id. at 15-16. In addition to confirming the information Agent Mostyn had already provided, the affidavit revealed that the cooperating distributor's supplier often traveled with a heavy-set black male with a beard and that he charged twenty-five dollars per thirty-milligram pill. Id. at 16-18. See also Ex. 1 at ¶ 26.

B. The Surveillance

On the morning of the transaction, Agent Doud began surveilling the McDonald's with other DEA and ATF agents. Id. at 19-20. The informant and "D" had agreed to meet there at 11:00 a.m. Id. at 20. Instead of traveling to the McDonald's, the informant stayed at his house, where two DEA agents met him. Id. at 19. The informant called "D" in the presence of these agents, who were in radio contact with Agent Doud. Id. at 20-21. Agent Doud was also in radio contact with the agents surveilling the McDonald's. Id. at 21. He relayed the informant's communications with "D" to them. Id.

When the informant told "D" that he was waiting inside the McDonald's, "D" responded that he would arrive in a few minutes in a red truck. Id. at 20. Agent Doud next observed a black Jeep Cherokee pass the parking lot for the McDonald's. Id. at 21. After passing the McDonald's, the jeep turned around and entered its parking lot through the back entrance. Id. at 22. The jeep's movements led Agent Doud to believe its occupants might be conducting countersurveillance.

Id. at 22, 24-25. In his experience, the vast majority of customers turned into the parking lot immediately, rather than loop around ...


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