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United States v. Hollis

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

April 17, 2017

JAMAULE HOLLIS, et al., Defendants.



         In 2016, a federal grand jury returned a fourteen count indictment against Jamaule Hollis and John G. Tomes for their alleged involvement in a drug trafficking conspiracy.[1]The indictment resulted from a joint investigation involving at least four separate law-enforcement agencies which, over the course of the investigation, obtained and executed six search warrants related to Tomes. Through two separate motions and a supplemental brief, Tomes seeks to exclude all evidence gathered during the execution of those search warrants. He mounts a multifaceted attack against the validity of the warrants, primarily arguing that none of the supporting affidavits established the probable cause required by the Warrant Clause of the Fourth Amendment. Ultimately, the Court finds no defect of constitutional importance with any of the searches at issue. Therefore, Tomes's First Motion to Suppress, [R. 66], and Second Motion to Suppress, [R. 68], are DENIED.



         In 2016, a confidential source informed the Jeffersontown Police Department that Jamaule D. Hollis was actively trafficking large amounts of crystal methamphetamine in Jefferson County, Kentucky. [R. 75-2 at 4 (Detective Presley's Affidavit).] Following up on that tip, Detective Steven N. Presley of the Jeffersontown Police Department, along with officers from the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) and agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), began surveilling Hollis as part of a joint investigation. [Id. at 4-5.]

         While surveilling Hollis's residence on August 17, officers saw a blue Ford Taurus registered to John Tomes arrive. [Id. at 5.] After a few minutes, the vehicle left and traveled to an apartment building located at 5202 Marty Lane in Louisville, Kentucky. [Id.] Detective Presley watched an individual, later identified as Tomes, enter the apartment building and return to the vehicle shortly thereafter. [Id.] Tomes then drove back to Hollis's home, stayed for a brief period, and then left again. [Id.]

         Following that exchange, law-enforcement officers tailed Hollis as he left home and drove into downtown Louisville. [Id.] There, officers observed Hollis conduct several suspected drug transactions. [Id.] Shortly after witnessing the alleged sales, LMPD officers effectuated a traffic stop of Hollis's vehicle, which had previously been reported stolen. [Id.] The LMPD officers located multiple ounces of crystal methamphetamine on Hollis's person. [Id.]

         During an on-scene interview, Hollis gave a statement to Detective Presley and Special Agent Milton Galanos of the DEA. [Id. at 5-6.] In that statement, Hollis identified Tomes as the person whom supplied him earlier that same day with the crystal methamphetamine. [Id.] Hollis reported that Tomes used the apartment located at 5202 Marty Lane as a “stash house” for illicit drugs, money, and firearms. [Id. at 6.] He had been to that apartment within the past twenty-four hours and saw multiple pounds of methamphetamine and heroin inside. [Id.] Armed with that information, Detective Presley ran Tomes's name through law-enforcement databases and discovered that Tomes had been convicted for trafficking in narcotics before. [Id.]

         The next day, Detective Presley applied for a warrant to search the Marty Lane apartment in order to seize crystal methamphetamine

and any other substances in violation of KRS 218A. The scope of the search should also include any items to cut, weigh, measure, or package such substances; any items used to protect, transport or conceal said substances; all monies, property, equipment, weapons, records, tax returns, photographs, records indicia of occupancy residency or ownership; any records detailing earnings, net worth or any evidence of money laundering; and, all items derived from the [sale], use, transfer, storage, shipping, [or] handling, of such illegal controlled substance . . . .

[R. 75-2 at 1 (Search and Seizure Warrant).] A state court judge issued the warrant, which Detective Presley executed on August 18. [Id. at 2.] Among other things, law-enforcement officers seized a firearm, several pounds of methamphetamine, and a hydraulic press, which large-scale narcotics traffickers typically use to package significant quantities of narcotics. [R. 73-1 at 12-13, ¶ 5(c) (Special Agent Maniff's Affidavit).] The officers also observed mail addressed and identification belonging to Tomes in the apartment. [Id. at 13, ¶ 5(d).]

         On September 7, a federal grand jury returned a fourteen count indictment against Hollis and Tomes, charging both with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute large quantities of methamphetamine and heroin, along with firearm-related charges. [R. 11 at 1-7 (Indictment).] Law-enforcement officers promptly arrested Hollis in Kentucky. [R. 5 at 1 (Arrest Warrant Return).] Although Tomes was more difficult to apprehend, Special Agent Jonathan Maniff of the ATF, accompanied by additional agents, arrested him in California on September 20. [R. 73-1 at 14, ¶ 8.] When Tomes was taken into custody, federal agents recovered four cellphones and approximately $5, 000 on his person. [Id.]


         Through conversations with Special Agent Ryan N. Molinari of the ATF, Special Agent Maniff learned about the large quantities of narcotics seized at the Marty Lane apartment in Kentucky. [Id. at 12-13, ¶ 5(c).] Special Agent Maniff became aware that two cellphone numbers associated with Tomes had been in contact with telephone numbers belonging to suspected narcotics traffickers. [Id., ¶ 5(b), (e).] Special Agent Maniff knew that drug traffickers frequently used multiple cellphones to communicate with customers and suppliers and to take photographs of drugs, cash, and firearms. [Id. at 15-17, ¶ 10.] Based on that information, along with his training and experience, Special Agent Maniff applied for warrants to search Tomes's four cellphones. [Id. at 10-11, ¶¶ 1-2.] The warrants sought to seize call log information, address book information, text messages, e-mail communications, audio and video recordings, and images

relating to violations of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (felon in possession of a firearm); 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) (manufacture or distribution of a controlled substance, or possession with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense a controlled substance); 21 U.S.C. § 846 (conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense a controlled substance) . . . .

[Id. at 3-4, ¶ 1.]

         Magistrate Judge Patrick Walsh issued the four warrants on September 22. [See R. 73-1 at 1 (Search and Seizure Warrant); R. 73-2 at 1 (Search and Seizure Warrant); R. 73-3 at 1 (Search and Seizure Warrant); R. 73-4 at 1 (Search and Seizure Warrant).] Upon execution, Special Agent Maniff discovered conversations in which Tomes coordinated the purchase of a firearm as well as suspected narcotics transactions. [R. 75- 3 at 12, ¶ 12 (Special Agent Molinari's Affidavit).] He relayed that information to Special Agent Molinari in Kentucky. [Id.]


         Meanwhile, a few days prior to Tomes's arrest, Special Agent Molinari had identified, through law-enforcement databases, an apartment located at 9400 Deerfoot Trace in Prospect, Kentucky as an address possibly associated with Tomes. [Id. at 11, ¶ 11.] Special Agent Galanos obtained the lease for the apartment on September 21, which listed Yvonne Tomes, the mother of John G. Tomes, as the lessee. [Id.] The following week, Special Agent Molinari and Special Agent Galanos attempted to interview Mrs. Tomes at the residence twice, but no one came to the door. [Id. at 12, ¶ 13.] From outside the apartment, however, the agents saw a blue sedan matching the description of Tomes's vehicle in the garage attached to the apartment. [Id.]

         In addition, the agents interviewed an unnamed source (the identity of whom Special Agent Molinari revealed to the magistrate judge) with reliable firsthand knowledge of activity in and around the Deerfoot Trace apartment. [Id. at 12-13, ¶ 13.] Sometime in mid-August, the unnamed source noticed a black male who matched Tomes's description, along with an older black woman, at the apartment complex. [Id.] The woman identified the man as her son whom, ostensibly, was helping her move into the apartment. [Id.] The unnamed source had not seen the woman since that day. [Id. at 13, ¶ 13.] Two weeks later, however, the unnamed source saw the black male moving things into the apartment from a blue sedan. [Id.] After speaking with the unnamed source, Special Agent Molinari inquired as to Mrs. Tomes's current address. [Id., ¶ 14.] From those inquiries, he learned that her driver's license listed Fishers, Indiana as her current residence. [Id.] ...

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