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United States v. Akinsanya

May 9, 1995

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

ABAYOMI AKINSANYA,

DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.

No. 92 CR 316--James B. Zagel, Judge.

Before POSNER, Chief Judge, CUDAHY, Circuit Judge, and GRANT, District Judge. *fn*

GRANT, District Judge.

ARGUED JANUARY 4, 1995

DECIDED MAY 9, 1995

Abayomi Akinsanya was arrested in his Chicago apartment on April 23, 1992 after producing approximately 100 grams of heroin for purchase by a government informant. He was subsequently charged with possession with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. sec. 841(a)(1). Unpersuaded by his entrapment defense, the jury found Akinsanya guilty as charged. On appeal, Akinsanya challenges: (1) the district court's denial of his motion to suppress the evidence obtained in the warrantless search of his apartment (the 100 grams of heroin); (2) the district court's refusal to give his tendered jury instruction emphasizing the value of character evidence; (3) the sufficiency of the evidence of predisposition; (4) the prosecutor's closing remarks; and (5) the cumulative effect of these errors on his right to a fair trial. For the following reasons, the judgment is AFFIRMED.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Pursuant to an agreement with the government, Saeed Gilani, an admitted drug dealer, was "cooperating" with authorities in the investigation of drug trafficking in the Chicago area. In an effort to fulfill his obligations under the agreement, Gilani tried to reestablish contact with a former business associate, the defendant Abayomi Akinsanya, whom he contended was a drug dealer known to sell heroin in amounts up to one kilogram.

Gilani contacted Akinsanya in early April 1992 to see if he could purchase 100-200 grams of heroin. Although his initial efforts were unsuccessful, in a taped phone conversation which occurred on April 17, 1992, Akinsanya agreed in coded language to sell Gilani "four wheels" of heroin (with one "wheel" equal to 25 grams) at a cost of $5,500 per "wheel". Gilani told Akinsanya that he wanted to contact his buyer and that he would call back.

Three or four days later, Gilani called Akinsanya and said that he needed a sample to show his buyer. Akinsanya agreed, and told Gilani he could pick it up at his place of business, a flower shop on the north side of Chicago. When Gilani arrived at the shop, Akinsanya gave him a small sample of heroin and told Gilani the price would be $18,500 for each 100 grams. Gilani left, but purportedly lost the sample before he could turn it over to the authorities.

After a series of telephone conversations on April 23, 1992, Gilani and Akinsanya agreed to meet at the defendant's apartment later that night to culminate the 100 gram transaction. The defendant met Gilani in the lobby of the apartment building, and asked if the buyer was ready with the money. Gilani indicated that he was, and told Akinsanya that his buyer was looking for a parking space and was waiting for him to call him on his car phone. Gilani left the building, went to a nearby pay phone and called DEA Agent Fergus to tell him that Akinsanya wanted to see the money. Agent Fergus informed Gilani that he (Gilani) would have to see the heroin before they could reveal any money to the defendant. Gilani rejoined Akinsanya in the lobby, and the two walked into the indoor parking garage where the defendant retrieved "the stuff" from his car. They then went up to Akinsanya's apartment. DEA agents followed close behind, and took up positions in the hallway.

Inside the apartment, Akinsanya showed Gilani what appeared to be 100 grams of heroin. Gilani called one of the agents, under the pretext that the agent was his buyer, and told him that he had seen the heroin. The agent instructed Gilani to wait briefly, and then leave the apartment. DEA agents waiting outside of Akinsanya's apartment were alerted via radio that Akinsanya had the heroin and that Gilani would be leaving shortly, purportedly to get the money for the heroin. A few minutes later, Gilani opened the door and stepped from the apartment, at which point one of the agents identified himself as a police officer, displayed his badge, and stepped into the apartment. A struggle ensued, and when the defendant was finally restrained, agents searched the apartment and found a plastic bag containing approximately 100 grams of heroin sitting on top of the toilet in the bathroom. Gilani later testified that Akinsanya told him he kept it there for easy disposal in the event of emergencies.

At trial, Akinsanya raised an entrapment defense, contending that he only agreed to the transaction after "repeated and strenuous hounding by Gilani." Akinsanya testified that between 1990 and March 1992, Gilani mentioned illegal drugs to him approximately ten times, and asked him to join him in dealing drugs. According to Akinsanya, he told Gilani that he was not interested. Akinsanya did acknowledge, however, that in raising the topic of drug dealing, Gilani did not push or pressure him, nor did he pursue the issue at length. When Akinsanya expressed no interest, Gilani "would just laugh and drop the subject." Akinsanya testified that a few weeks before his arrest, Gilani came to him and told him he wanted Akinsanya to find heroin for a friend of his. Akinsanya allegedly asked Gilani where heroin came from, and Gilani told him that people from Akinsanya's native country (Nigeria) bring it into the United States. Although Akinsanya expressed no interest in helping Gilani at that time, Gilani brought the subject up at least five times in the week prior to his arrest, encouraging Akinsanya by telling him how much money they could make. Akinsanya ultimately conceded and told Gilani that he would see if he could find the heroin. Akinsanya testified that a day later, on April 18, 1992, he happened to be at a party (although he couldn't remember whose) and to run into a man he knew "slightly" named "Benny," and that Benny happened to mention to him that he had 100 grams of heroin that he needed to sell. According to Akinsanya, Benny took him aside and told him that he had a package of heroin that he wanted to leave with him, and that he knew Akinsanya was a trustworthy businessman, who would be good for the money. Benny therefore agreed to front ...


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