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United States v. Mateo

United States District Court, D. Vermont

June 10, 2019



          Christina Reiss, District United States District Judge.

         Defendant Susan Mateo is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances (heroin, fentanyl, and oxycodone) in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a), 841(b)(1)(B), 841(b)(1)(C), and 846, distribution of controlled substances in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a) and 841(b)(1)(C), and a money laundering conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h). (Doc. 75.)

         Pending before the court is Defendant's motion to suppress statements made in a January 23, 2018 interview with two Drug Enforcement Agency ("DEA") agents. (Doc. 89.) The government opposes the motion. The court held an evidentiary hearing on April 19, 2019 at which Samantha Foss and DEA Agents Christopher Paquette and Brandon Hope testified. On May 10, 2019, the parties filed post-hearing memoranda, at which time the court took the pending motion under advisement.

         Defendant is represented by Maryanne E. Kampmann, Esq. The government is represented by Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan Ophardt and Spencer Willig.

         I. Findings of Fact.

         The court incorporates its findings of fact set forth in its May 30, 2019 Opinion and Order Denying Defendant's Motion to Suppress Audio Recordings and Motion for a Bill of Particulars (Doc. 114) wherein it found, among other things, that in September 2017 through January 2018, the DEA and the Morristown Police Department entered into an agreement with a confidential information ("CI") to engage in a series of controlled buys. Pursuant to that agreement, the CI voluntarily agreed to record her telephone conversations with and purchases from Defendant and her mother Esperanza "Hope" Delarosa in exchange for monetary compensation and consideration with regard to potential felony and misdemeanor charges.

         On January 23, 2018, Defendant was arrested and transported to the Stowe Police Station where she was placed in a holding cell before being escorted to an interview room where she was seated at a table with DEA Diversion Investigator Christopher Paquette and DEA Task Force Officer ("TFO") Robert Sylvia. At the time of the interview, the DEA Agents were in possession of Defendant's cell phone which had been seized from her upon her arrest. The DEA Agents' interview with Defendant was audio and digitally recorded and is reflected in a stipulated transcript introduced into evidence as Gov't Ex.3.

         Prior to administering Miranda warnings, TFO Sylvia introduced himself and DEA Agent Paquette as follows:

So my name is Rob, and this is Chris. We both work for the DEA, we're both Federal Agents for the DEA. Um, so I want to try to get this processed tonight, we have to do a couple of things. I told you, you're, you are not the only one that's being dealt with tonight, either here or elsewhere, including other states[.] . .. Okay. Including, they're doing a federal search warrant up at your house in Morrisville, at least that's here in Vermont, okay. So they're, they're dealing with the kids, they're going to be taken care of. There is two guys there, you know, we're going to treat them just like we treat you, with respect. But we're going to do our business and we'll go from there.

Gov't Ex. 3 at 1-2.

         Defendant asked to speak to her children and was told that it was possible that arrangements could be made so that she could do so at the end of the night. When Defendant suggested her mother as a person who would be available to take care of her the children, TFO Sylvia responded as follows:

Or if the guys there have something outlandish that's going to have to cause us to do something about it. They'll make arrangements, but, at, when we're done here, you'll know what's going to happen with them, or where they're going, or whether or not... I would have to talk to my big boss to decide if you would be able to talk to them. Um, but I want to just make sure that we're clear about this, I don't want to hold, we're not holding that over your head. Whether you decide to talk with us, or we have a conversation, and what happens with your kids, I want to make sure that we keep that separate because I want you to talk to me, but I don't want you to think that you have to talk to me because it has anything to do with your kids tonight. We, we clear about that?

Id. at 2. Defendant nodded her assent. Thereafter, TFO Sylvia spoke to Defendant as follows:

Okay. I just want to make sure I'm not, we're not holding that over your head. That's not how we work, okay? So I've already told you we're federal agents and you have a federal arrest warrant for you. Meaning, what that means is a federal judge has listened to or read what we've learned about you, your mom, and some other folks, and agreed that we have enough to arrest you. And to search your house. And really the reason is, is because you guys are selling drugs. Now hold on to that for a second. So the judge has given us permission to arrest you and to search your place, and to do some other things elsewhere. That's a big deal because not everybody gets arrested by the DEA. Cause we're not the NYPD. We're not the State Police okay. We're talking, it's a very serious set of crimes that you're involved in. Um, what I also want to make clear, is the difference between the local police, and us. You know the NYPD or us, if you were to lie to us, if you were to lie to the NYPD you know, because you were drinking a beer on your door step, if you lie to them, it just hurts their feelings and they go home at the end of their shift. If you were to lie to us, it's actually a federal offense, okay. It's another crime, okay. It could be consider[ed] a crime when you lie to a federal agent, alright. Do you know Martha Stewart, the lady on TV? She went to federal prison, do you know why she went to federal prison? Because she lied to the FBI. So if basket weaving market Martha Stewart can go to jail, um, it's pretty reasonable to think that you know, when people lie to the government they could get in trouble for it. Does that make sense? Alright. So that's what, I just want to be fair. Because you have a chance to have a conversation with us. So we want to, we're going to get your fingerprints, we're going to ask you some information. Some of which we know, you know, your biographical, your height, your weight, where you live, what you do for work, those type of things. So we need to ask you those things, we want to talk to you. In order to do that we have to read you your rights. Have you ever had your rights read to you before?

Id. at 2-3.

         Defendant responded that she had not previously been provided Miranda warnings and, in response to TFO Sylvia's questions, confirmed she had not been arrested previously, had not seen Miranda warnings provided on television, and did not know her Miranda rights. In response to TFO Sylvia's inquiry, Defendant indicated that she did not need her rights to be provided in Spanish and could understand them in English. At that point, the Agents and Defendant engaged in the following colloquy:

TFO Sylvia: Okay, alright. So what I'm going to do is, I'm going to read through this form, I'm going to check a couple of boxes as I go. I'm going to ask you to look at it, I'm going to ask if you have any questions about it, because I want to talk to you. Does that, does that make any sense?
Defendant: (Nods head yes).
TFO Sylvia: Alright. So here's what we're going to do so we can get that stuff done. Um, you have the right to remain silent. You don't have to say anything. Anything you say could be used in the future court ([audio] cuts out) a lawyer before questioning. You have the right to have a lawyer with you during questioning. If you can't afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you before any questioning, if you wish. And in this case it would need to be a lawyer that can represent you in federal court.[1] Okay? Do you understand that?
Defendant: (Nods head yes).
TFO Sylvia: Do you have any questions about any of it? Any of these things right here? Do you understand it clearly? Um, are you willing to answer some of the questions? Can we talk with you?
Defendant: Can I talk to somebody?
TFO Sylvia: I mean, are you talking like your kids, your mom, or . ..
Defendant: Like a lawyer or something.
TFO Sylvia: Do you wanna, okay. Do you wanna talk to a lawyer before you talk to us?
Defendant: (Nods head yes).
TFO Sylvia: Okay, fair enough. Time?
DEA Agent Paquette: Nine-thirty.
TFO Sylvia: Alright. What we're going to do is, at a minimum at least, I got to get your biographical information, okay?
Defendant: (Nods head yes).
TFO Sylvia: Um, so we'll go through that. Because you wanted to talk to a lawyer, I'm not going to ask any questions about some of the stuff we're interested in, unfortunately. But those are the rules, so we're not going to do that. But I am going to ask you just your biographical stuff, because we need to get that. And then what's going to happen tonight, once we're done getting your information, we're going to take your fingerprints. And from here, you're going to go up to Burlington. And, there you're going to go to the local jail up there in South Burlington.
Defendant: Am I going to be able to (inaudible).
TFO Sylvia: You're, you, you're going to jail tonight no matter what.
DEA Agent Paquette: Yeah, I don't know if the, I don't know if the boss will allow that or not. That's something that, like Rob said, it um, on the onset of this, something we have to check with him on. If not, we're not one hundred percent sure.
TFO Sylvia: And no offense, those are things you go[t] to think of when you get involved in this type of thing. Okay? That's, those are the things you got to think of. Um, so you're going to go to jail there tonight, overnight, with a federal arrest warrant. There is no bail. So you'll beheld without bail, until the morning.

Id. at 4-6.

         TFO Sylvia proceeded to describe to Defendant the proceedings that would take place the following morning at federal court. He then asked Defendant's name; date of birth; social security number; city of birth; U.S. citizenship; hair color; height; color of eyes; weight; whether she had birthmarks, piercing, or tattoos; her address; home and cell phone numbers; whether and where she was employed and in what position; and her employer's telephone number. He further inquired about her driver's license and passport and whether they would be found in her vehicle.

         TFO Sylvia confirmed Defendant's mother's name and asked the names of each of her three siblings as well as their ages, where they lived, their dates of birth, and their telephone numbers. DEA Agent Paquette interrupted to ask if "[e] very one just uses their cell phones?" Id. at 11. TFO Sylvia asked the ages of Defendant's children and the identity of the men who were taking care of them at Defendant's home. Defendant identified the men as her brother and the children's father and asked whether the children could stay with their father. TFO Sylvia responded as follows:

TFO Sylvia: As I know right now, yes. But I don't know what he, if he's done anything. What they found there, the circumstances. So I'm, you know, I don't want to lie to you.
Defendant: He's never lived there.
TFO Sylvia: Well, then, but he's their father, so. I just, it doesn't matter. You know, whatever is there could, he could be responsible for that. I don't know ...

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