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People v. Gonzalez

May 19, 2000

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
V.
RAMON GONZALEZ,
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 97--CF--308 Honorable Thomas E. Callum, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Rapp

Following a stipulated bench trial, defendant, Ramon Gonzalez, was convicted of three "super-Class X" drug offenses, one of which involved several kilograms of cocaine. The trial court sentenced defendant on the most serious offense to 15 years' imprisonment and imposed a substantial street-value fine. Following denial of his posttrial motions, defendant timely appealed. Defendant challenges the denial of two suppression motions and alleges that the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We affirm.

I. FACTS

On February 28, 1997, a three-count indictment was handed down against defendant. Count I charged defendant with unlawful delivery of between 400 and 900 grams of cocaine (720 ILCS 570/401(a)(2)(C) (West 1996)); count II charged defendant with unlawful possession of more than 900 grams of cocaine with intent to deliver (720 ILCS 570/401(a)(2)(D) (West 1996)); and count III charged defendant with unlawful possession of between 400 and 900 grams of cocaine with intent to deliver (720 ILCS 570/401(a)(2)(C) (West 1996)).

Defendant filed several suppression motions. In the first motion, defendant sought to suppress the contents of eavesdrop recordings between him and a confidential informant during which drug transactions were discussed. At a hearing on the motion, defendant argued that the application for the original eavesdrop authorization and an extension (applications) were defective because, inter alia, (1) the alleged consenting party was identified in the applications by an alias; and (2) information upon which the applications were based was obtained through two "eavesdrops" conducted prior to approval of the original application. The applications presented at the hearing identified the consenting party as "Mike Martinez (not his real name)." The consent forms for both applications were signed by "Mike Martinez." Testimony revealed that Mike Martinez was actually Carlos Moa, a confidential informant. In essence, defendant argued that without the recordings the other evidence obtained against him was inadmissible as "fruit of the poisonous tree." The trial court denied the motion, finding that identifying Moa by his alias amounted to, at most, a technical violation and was not an attempt to mislead and that some of the information upon which the applications were based was not obtained improperly. In the second motion, defendant sought to suppress certain custodial statements made to the police prior to being given Miranda warnings or executing a Miranda waiver. After hearing the evidence and arguments, the trial court granted the motion.

In the third motion, defendant sought to suppress certain physical evidence as "fruit of the poisonous tree" based on the Miranda violations. The trial court denied the motion, concluding that the Miranda violation was simply a violation of a prophylactic rule and not a violation of a constitutional right. The trial court further found that defendant's custodial statements were voluntary.

A stipulated bench trial was held on December 1, 1998, at which the following evidence was presented by the State. Carlos Moa would testify that in December 1996 he was working as an informant for the Du Page Metropolitan Enforcement Group (DuMEG). Moa was not a police officer. Moa would testify that he knew defendant for at least a year prior to December 1996. Moa purchased cocaine from defendant on a number of occasions. The most cocaine Moa ever purchased from defendant at any one time was a half-kilogram. Moa had been to defendant's residence at 255 East Oak, Apartment 8, Addison, Illinois, on at least two prior occasions.

Moa would further testify that on December 11, 1996, he arranged for defendant to meet him in the parking lot of a nearby McDonald's restaurant to sell a small quantity of cocaine to an acquaintance. That acquaintance was actually Guy DiCastris, a DuMEG undercover narcotics agent. At the arranged time, Moa observed defendant drive up in a black BMW. Defendant got into Moa's car and discussed selling large quantities of cocaine to DiCastris in the future. The arranged transaction was then completed.

On December 30, 1996, Moa again arranged for a small drug transaction. This time the deal was to take place in the parking lot of a nearby Venture department store. Moa was accompanied by DiCastris and another DuMEG narcotics agent, David Webb. Moa would testify that defendant arrived in the same BMW he drove to the McDonald's meeting. This time, Webb got into defendant's car while Moa and DiCastris stayed behind. Moa did not hear or see what transpired between Webb and defendant. Moa would also testify that a month later, on January 30, 1997, he met with defendant at a nearby Denny's restaurant. There they discussed drug transactions at length, and defendant told Moa that his supplier was Miguel "Mike" Corral.

During the first week and a half of February 1997, Moa and defendant had several phone conversations concerning the sale of a half-kilogram of cocaine. Moa would testify that on February 10, 1997, he met defendant in the parking lot of defendant's apartment building to discuss completing the sale the next day. On February 11, 1997, Moa had a phone conversation with defendant during which they agreed on a price of $14,000. Later that day, Moa met defendant in the parking lot of his condominium building. Moa would testify that defendant indicated that he had the half-kilogram and he wanted to see the money. Moa responded that he wanted to see the cocaine. Defendant took Moa to the black BMW and showed him what appeared to be a half-kilogram of cocaine in a box. After observing the cocaine, Moa gave agents present at the scene a signal and defendant was arrested.

If called to testify, Agent DiCastris would confirm the events that transpired in the McDonald's parking lot on December 11, 1996. DiCastris would state that defendant drove up in a black BMW with the license plate number HSD 639. DiCastris would confirm that defendant sold him a small amount of cocaine. DiCastris would also confirm the events that transpired in the Venture parking lot on December 30, 1996. Agent Webb would testify that he was in the McDonald's parking lot on December 11, 1996, but in a separate car. Webb took custody of the suspected cocaine purchased by DiCastris. Webb would also confirm the events that transpired at Venture on December 30, 1996. Webb would testify that he had a conversation with defendant about buying cocaine. Defendant then sold Webb a small amount of cocaine. Finally, Webb would testify that he was at the scene when Moa and defendant met on February 11, 1997, but was not part of the deal. Webb would confirm much of Moa's version of events.

A third DuMEG narcotics agent, Agent Dutkovich, would testify that he was also at the scene on February 11, 1997. After defendant was taken into custody, Dutkovich searched the BMW and found the box containing the suspected cocaine. Dutkovich also obtained written consent from defendant to search his residence. During a search of the residence, Dutkovich found a duffel bag containing about two kilograms of suspected cocaine, a loaded semi-automatic pistol, $23,500 cash, an Illinois Lotto ticket, and two identification cards with Miguel Corral's picture. Flora Gonzalez, defendant's sister, would testify that she was at defendant's residence on February 11, 1997. She would testify that the duffel bag recovered by the police was found in defendant's bedroom.

A latent fingerprint examiner, Paul Sahs, would testify that fingerprints were discovered on the Lotto ticket found in the duffel bag. Sahs would testify that the fingerprints belonged to defendant. Finally, a forensic chemist, Corina Campos, would testify that she analyzed the suspected cocaine recovered from the drug transactions and defendant's residence. Campos would testify that the substance was indeed cocaine and that its total weight was in excess of 1,100 grams. The State offered the cocaine into evidence. The trial court admitted the cocaine over the defense's objection that the cocaine was inadmissible based on the suppression motions.

Defendant's motion for a directed verdict was denied and the trial court found defendant guilty on all counts. After denying defendant's posttrial motions, the trial court sentenced defendant as ...


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