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United States v. McCloud

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington

October 17, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PLAINTIFF
v.
JOHN LEE McCLOUD DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          David L. Bunning United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Suppress all evidence seized from his person at a hotel on February 21, 2018. (Doc. # 16). In his Motion, Mr. McCloud alleges that Florence, Kentucky police officers lacked probable cause to arrest him and that all evidence seized thereafter should be suppressed. (Doc. # 16 at 3).

         On September 19, 2018, the Court held an evidentiary hearing on the Motion. (Doc. # 19). Defendant McCloud was present at the hearing and represented by attorney Steven Howe. The United States was represented by Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Bracke. The hearing was recorded by the Official Court Reporter Lisa Wiesman (Doc. # 21). Prior to the hearing, the Defendant filed a memorandum in support of his Motion to Suppress (Doc. # 16) and the United States filed a Response in Opposition (Doc. # 17). The deadline for Defendant's reply brief having expired, the Motion is now ripe for the Court's review. For the reasons set forth herein, Defendant's Motion to Suppress (Doc. # 16) is hereby denied.

         II. FINDINGS OF FACT

         Two witnesses testified during the evidentiary hearing on behalf of the United States: Florence, Kentucky Police Officer Marc Richardson and DEA Supervisor Special Agent Brian Stine. The Defendant called no witnesses. Weighing the credibility of the witnesses, the Court makes the following factual findings:

1. In the late afternoon on February 20, 2018, Florence, Kentucky Police Officer Marc Richardson arrived at a hotel room on Houston Road in Florence as part of an undercover operation to apprehend a woman who had solicited as a prostitute on Craigslist. (Doc. # 21 at 7:23-8:4; 23:2-9; 29:5-8). When Officer Richardson arrived at the hotel room, he found two women present, both of whom offered sex in exchange for money. (Doc. # 21 at 7:22-8:3). While Officer Richardson was citing the women with prostitution, Florence, Kentucky Police Sergeant Reed arrived on the scene. (Doc. # 21 at 8:5).
2. While one of the women was pulling out her ID, Sergeant Reed observed what he thought was methamphetamine in her purse. (Doc. # 21 at 8:5-7). The officers then proceeded to search the entire room, finding additional methamphetamine. (Doc. # 21 at 8:8-9). The women agreed to give the officers the identity of their methamphetamine supplier. (Doc. # 21 at 8:10-13).
3. At the police officers' request, the women arranged to purchase additional narcotics from their supplier and have the drugs delivered to their hotel room with the officers present. (Doc. # 21 at 8:10-16). The women set up the purchase and their supplier [hereinafter the “Informant”] arrived with the requested drugs. (Doc. # 21 at 8:17- 23). Shortly thereafter, officers detained the Informant. (Doc. # 21 at 8:14-16).
4. Upon his detention by the police, the Informant told Officer Richardson that he would arrange a purchase of methamphetamine through his supplier, who went by the initials “S.P.” (Doc. # 21 at 9:17-20). Specifically, the Informant stated that he could obtain five ounces of methamphetamine for $2, 500 from S.P. that evening. (Doc. # 21 at 9:20-21). The Informant described S.P. as a “skinny black male, ” who drove a dark blue, four-door vehicle with tinted windows and who always carried a firearm. (Doc. # 21 at 9:22-10:4; 10:16-19).
5. After the Informant indicated that he was interested in cooperating, the police officers took the Informant to the Florence, Kentucky police station to conduct an interview. (Doc. # 21 at 12:10-12). Prior to the interview, Officer Richardson checked the Informant's criminal history and had the Informant sign a cooperation agreement. (Doc. # 21 at 30:12-20). During the interview, the Informant agreed to arrange a drug purchase with S.P. by phone, to occur very early the next morning. (Doc. # 21 at 12:14-19).
6. At 11:45 p.m., the Informant called S.P., who was already saved as a contact in the Informant's phone. (Doc. # 21 at 12:14-19; 41:17-42:6). During the phone call, which was recorded, the Informant told S.P. that “he needed five, ” meaning five ounces of methamphetamine. (Doc. # 21 at 12:16-13:6). S.P. agreed. (Doc. # 21 at 12:16-17). During either the same phone call or during a subsequent call, the Informant also asked S.P. to bring him two grams of “boy” (the street name for heroin). (Doc. # 21 at 14:2-8). S.P. also agreed to this request. (Doc. # 21 at 14:9-10). The Informant told Officer Richardson that the transaction with S.P. would take place in his hotel room at the Days Inn on Cavalier Drive, where the Informant had been staying. (Doc. # 21 at 10:19-11:14; 14:20-15:5).
7. After the Informant made the initial phone call to S.P., Officers Richardson and Samad as well as Sergeant Reed escorted the Informant to his hotel room on the second floor of the Days Inn. (Doc. # 21 at 14:12-13; 20:14-17). Sergeant Reed was communicating with Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”) agents stationed in the parking lot, one of whom was Supervising Agent Brian Stine. (Doc. # 21 at 28:12-24).
8. Prior to arriving at the hotel room, the Informant notified Officer Richardson that there were illegal drugs in his hotel room and told police officers exactly where the drugs were located within the room. (Doc. # 21 at 14:13-16; 15:6-21). The Informant consented to a full search of the hotel room and all drugs found were seized. (Doc. # 21 at 14:14-18). Officer Richardson testified that the Informant's identification of the location of the drugs was accurate ...

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