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People v. Beck

June 11, 1999


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Greiman

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. The Honorable James B. Linn, Judge Presiding.

The State appeals from the circuit court's order granting the motion of defendant Alshawentus Beck and codefendant Charles Riley to quash a search warrant and suppress the evidence obtained pursuant to it. The State contends that the affidavit supporting the search warrant application established probable cause to support the warrant issued. Defendant and codefendant were each charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. Defendant filed a response to the State's appeal, but codefendant did not.

On July 18, 1997, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Special Agent Christopher Carlson applied in federal court for a warrant to search two residential properties: the residence and attached garage at 2928 South 9th Avenue in Broadview, Illinois, and apartment 410 at 3660 North Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. In his supporting affidavit, Carlson noted his eight years as a special agent involved in criminal investigations, including investigations of money laundering. Carlson stated that the information contained in the affidavit was based upon his personal knowledge, interviews with witnesses, information obtained through a wiretap investigation, information received from other law enforcement officers, a review of documents, and information acquired though his training and experience. Information also came from two confidential informants (CI).

The first CI had direct knowledge of defendant's street gang's sales of narcotics. This CI provided information to a gang specialist from the Chicago police department, Michael Cronin, in July 1997. This information was corroborated through conversations with other members and associates of the gang. The second CI, a friend of defendant, knew about the two residences sought to be searched. Carlson set forth a general description of the two properties.

According to Carlson's affidavit, federal and local law enforcement personnel conducted a joint investigation into the involvement of defendant's street gang in narcotics trafficking and money laundering activities. The investigation began in 1995 and revealed that members of the gang had been involved in the sale of crack cocaine and heroin near several Chicago public housing projects. In April 1997, a federal grand jury indicted three of the gang's leaders for violating federal narcotics laws and for operating a criminal enterprise. Federal money laundering charges were subsequently added to the indictment and the case was pending. This indictment requested the forfeiture of jewelry, properties, bank accounts, vehicles, and $6 million, representing the proceeds from the gang's narcotics sales.

The affidavit also indicated that Officer Cronin learned that the gang operated a drug operation in the 3800 block of West Maypole Avenue in Chicago. The first CI identified defendant as the gang member in charge of that operation. On July 12, 1997, Cronin spoke with a person who admitted working for defendant's drug operation. This person identified a picture of defendant. These individuals also told Cronin that defendant drove a red Jeep Cherokee without license plates and he owned a gold-colored Lexus, a Chevrolet Tahoe Truck, and a Pontiac Bonneville.

Defendant's suspected alias was Victor Nosyke. Secretary of State records indicate that defendant's driver's license includes a specific height and weight and a residence in Hillside, Illinois. An Illinois driver's license was issued to Nosyke on July 1, 1996, with identical height and weight information but a different birthdate than defendant's.

Secretary of State records also indicate that in 1996 Nosyke and Lasonia Armstrong registered a 1997 Pontiac in their names at a Chicago address. Nosyke was also listed as the owner of a 1995 Lexus at an Oak Park address. Police records show that in June 1997, Armstrong obtained an order of protection against defendant. One of Armstrong's addresses listed on the order was the same address provided for Nosyke's registration of the 1995 Lexus in Oak Park. The second CI informed Cronin that Armstrong was defendant's girlfriend.

In August 1995, Chicago police officers observed the driver of a Chevrolet Monte Carlo throw a handgun from the window of his vehicle before stopping in an alley behind the 3800 block of West Maypole. The driver fled, but the officers recovered $3,550 from the vehicle's trunk. According to Secretary of State records, that vehicle was registered in defendant's name at the same Hillside address listed for his driver's license. Defendant was arrested two days later at 3859 West Maypole and in July 1996, he pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm.

In March 1996, police officers observed defendant standing on the street near 3859 West Maypole. As the officers approached, defendant fled into a building, dropping two blue plastic bags that contained a white rock-like substance suspected to be cocaine. A criminal case relating to these events was pending.

In June 1996, police officers observed three men sitting in a parked car at 3850 West Maypole. The officers then saw another man who appeared to be conducting narcotics transactions walk up to the vehicle and hand one of the occupants some money. The officers approached the car and conducted a protective search of the three men. The officers found $1,400 on one of the men. This man told officers his identification was in his Jeep parked across the street. Officers recovered two Illinois driver's licenses from the Jeep with the man's photograph, one in defendant's name and one in the name of Victor Nosyke. The officers also recovered $1,720 from defendant's Jeep. Carlson indicated that he believed this Jeep was not the same Jeep previously mentioned that lacked license plates. When asked about the cash, defendant could not produce evidence of employment or income.

In July 1996, First National Bank of Chicago filed a suspected fraud report regarding this Jeep from which the police obtained defendant's multiple driver's licenses. The report indicated that defendant purchased the vehicle on May 8, 1996, making an $8,700 downpayment. He had obtained a loan in the amount of $30,070, but provided a fictitious social security number. The loan payments were timely.

IRS records indicated that defendant had not filed a federal tax return since 1993, when he reported income slightly over $4,000. Employers paid defendant over $4,000 in 1993, over $6,000 in 1994, and $46 in 1995. No employer reported for him in 1996. Cook County property records indicate that a person using the name Victor Nosyke purchased the property at 2928 South 9th Avenue in Broadview for $123,000 on April 1, 1997, and obtained a mortgage for $121,370. Monthly payments on the mortgage would be approximately $850 per month. According to the second CI, defendant lived in the Broadview home and used the name of Victor Nosyke to acquire the home.

On July 9, 1999, security personnel at 3660 North Lake Shore Drive recognized defendant's photograph as someone who maintained an apartment in the building. Victor Nosyke was listed as the tenant in apartment 410. The second CI told Cronin that defendant rented apartment 410 in the name of Victor Nosyke. Rent on such an apartment would be at least $800 per month. ...

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