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United States v. Vaughn

May 24, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Byron G. Cudmore United States Magistrate Judge



This cause comes before the Court on Defendant Stanley Vaughn's Motion to Suppress Evidence (d/e 14) (Motion to Suppress). The motion is fully briefed, and pursuant to Local Rule 72.1, the District Judge has referred the matter to me for Report and Recommendation. See Text Order dated April 22, 2010. After carefully considering all of the submissions of the parties, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), I recommend that the Motion to Suppress be DENIED.


Defendant Stanley Vaughn is charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and conspiracy to distribute a mixture or substance containing 100 or more grams of heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & (b)(1)(B) & 846. Indictment (d/e 9). Vaughn filed the pending Motion to Suppress on April 21, 2010.

As a threshold matter, the Court must consider whether to hold an evidentiary hearing on Vaughn's motion. The Court directed the parties to specifically address this issue, and they have done so, with both sides indicating that an evidentiary hearing is not necessary. See Text Order, dated May 5, 2010; Text Order, dated April 23, 2010. Although he initially requested a hearing on his Motion, in his reply, Vaughn concedes that the underlying facts are, for the most part, undisputed. Reply to Government's Response to Defendant's Motion to Suppress (d/e 16) (Reply), p. 4. Additionally, as Vaughn acknowledges, the challenges he raises are legal, rather than factual, in nature. Id. Thus, Vaughn's Reply represents that, under United States v. McGaughy, an evidentiary hearing is not necessary. Id. (citing McGaughy, 485 F.3d 965, 969 (7th Cir. 2007)). The Court agrees.

The defendant in McGaughy raised arguments similar to those at issue here. McGaughy was arrested and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm after police discovered two firearms in his possession during the execution of a search warrant for an apartment belonging to McGaughy's girlfriend. McGaughy, 485 F.3d at 967. Specifically, McGaughy asserted that the statements of an informant, which provided the substance of the complaint for the search warrant for the apartment, were insufficient to establish probable cause. Id. The district court denied McGaughy's motion to suppress without holding an evidentiary hearing. McGaughy was subsequently convicted following a jury trial. He appealed his conviction, asserting that the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress without first conducting an evidentiary hearing. Id. at 968.

The Seventh Circuit affirmed McGaughy's conviction. In doing so, the Court noted that evidentiary hearings on motions to suppress "are not required as a matter of course" and instructed as follows: a district court need conduct a hearing only when the allegations and moving papers are sufficiently definite, specific, non-conjectural and detailed enough to conclude that a substantial claim is presented and that there are disputed issues of material fact which will affect the outcome of the motion. We have emphasized the necessity of materiality in any factual disputes that are presented to the district court as a predicate for an evidentiary hearing.

McGaughy, 485 F.3d at 969 (internal quotations and citations omitted). Applying this standard to the instant case, it is clear that no evidentiary hearing is necessary because the material facts are undisputed. The Court turns its attention to those undisputed facts, which are taken from the affidavit of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent Scott Giovannelli that was filed in support of the criminal complaint in the instant case. Criminal Complaint (d/e 2), p. 2-6 (Giovannelli Aff.).*fn1

In November 2009, law enforcement officials initiated a heroin investigation involving Vaughn's co-defendant, Jenell Moore, and others in Springfield, Illinois. Agents conducted a controlled purchase of heroin by a confidential source from Moore and, subsequently, obtained a search warrant for Moore's residence on January 6, 2010. On January 6, 2010, agents established surveillance of Moore's residence and observed Moore enter a vehicle with a female and depart the area. A short time later, agents detained Moore. Agents informed Moore of the heroin investigation and said that they would like to speak with him. Moore indicated that he understood what the agents were talking about and that he was willing to cooperate with the investigation.

Moore was transported to the DEA's Springfield Resident Office, where he was advised of his Miranda rights. Moore agreed to be interviewed by the agents. Moore stated that his current source of supply for heroin was "Stanley" a/k/a "Smiley," an individual later positively identified by Moore as Defendant Vaughn. Moore informed the agents that Vaughn had made multiple trips from Chicago to Springfield to supply Moore and others with heroin. Moore reported that he had been obtaining large quantities of heroin from Vaughn since the summer of 2009.

Moore told the agents that Vaughn was going to deliver some heroin to Moore on that very day. According to Moore, Vaughn was supposed to be bringing fifty to one hundred grams of heroin to Springfield, a portion of which would be supplied to Moore. Moore indicated that the heroin would either be on Vaughn's person or in his vehicle. Although Vaughn traveled to Springfield in different vehicles, Moore believed that Vaughn would be using a black four-door Pontiac on the instant trip. According to Moore, this was the vehicle Vaughn had used on his last trip to Springfield. Agents had observed a vehicle matching this description, bearing an Illinois registration 9514816, at Moore's residence on December 30, 2009. At that time, agents observed Moore and another black male use the Pontiac to deliver heroin to a confidential source and others in Springfield.

Moore gave the agents Vaughn's cellular telephone number. Moore agreed to place a series of recorded telephone calls to Vaughn in an attempt to ascertain Vaughn's whereabouts. At approximately 7:28 p.m. on January 6, 2010, Vaughn called Moore and indicated that he would be arriving in Springfield in a little while. "Moore and Vaughn spoke by telephone a couple times." Giovannelli Aff., ¶ 11. During one call, Vaughn stated that his telephone battery was dying, but that he was still planning on meeting with Moore.

Moore informed the agents that Vaughn knew where Moore lived and that Moore believed it might be possible for Vaughn to arrive at Moore's residence without telephoning Moore in advance. Agents again established surveillance at Moore's residence. "At approximately 11:14 p.m., agents observed a black Pontiac; later confirmed as the same Pontiac previously seen by agents, arrive at Moore's apartment building and park." Giovannelli Aff., ΒΆ 12. Agents observed a black male enter the apartment building, walk to the second floor, and appear to knock on Moore's door. Moore, who was with the surveillance agents, ...

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