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United States v. Thomas

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

December 29, 2014



AMY J. ST. EVE, District Judge.

Defendant William Thomas has moved to suppress evidence seized pursuant to the execution of a search warrant in a basement floor apartment. For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies Defendant's motion.


On October 17, 2013, the grand jury returned a three count indictment against Defendant William Thomas. Count One charges Defendant with being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1). Count Two charges Defendant with knowingly and intentionally possessing heroin with intent to distribute, in violation of 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1). Count Three charges Defendant Thomas with knowingly possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, namely possession with intent to distribute heroin, as charged in Count Two, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1)(A). The indictment also contains a related forfeiture allegation. The charges were based in part on evidence seized from Thomas' apartment on June 4, 2013.[1]

I. The Search Warrant

On June 3, 2013, Cook County Circuit Judge Sandra G. Ramos issued a search warrant to search "the person of William G. Thomas, AKA Burpy'... and the premises of 904 N. Kedvale, basement floor apartment, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois." (R. 39-1, Ex. A.) Judge Ramos issued the search warrant after finding probable cause based on a Complaint for Search Warrant (the "Complaint") sworn to in her presence by Chicago Police Detective Gregory Jacobson and an individual referred to as "John Doe." (R. 39-1, Ex. B.) "John Doe, " the confidential informant ("CI"), personally appeared before Judge Ramos to present the Complaint, and swore to its contents before her. In addition, "he was made available for questioning" by Judge Ramos. ( Id. ) The Complaint also specifically noted that "John Doe's criminal history, including possible pending investigations, if any, has been presented and made available to the undersigned Judge." ( Id. ).

The Complaint disclosed Detective Jacobson's experience, including his prior use of confidential informants in investigations. ( Id. ) It revealed that on June 1, 2013, a confidential informant referred to as "John Doe" disclosed that he/she had been in Defendant's basement apartment near Kedvale and Iowa[2] with Defendant, known as "Burpy." ( Id. ) While in the basement, the CI saw a large clothes rack with numerous items of men's clothing. ( Id. ) While discussing recent gang conflicts in the area of Chicago Avenue and Lorell with Defendant, a member of the Four Corner Hustle street gang, Defendant "retrieved a blue and gray steel, baby' 40 caliber semi-automatic handgun and a blue steel 40 caliber semi-automatic handgun from inside of the pockets of clothing that were on the clothing rack inside of the apartment." ( Id. ) While holding both guns in his hands, Defendant stated, "I am ready for any of those niggas who try and take what's mine." ( Id. ) The CI then saw Defendant place the "blue and gray steel baby', 40 caliber semi-automatic handgun and a blue 40 caliber semi-automatic handgun back in [the] clothing that was hanging on the clothing rack." ( Id. ) Detective Jacobson described the steps he had taken to corroborate John Doe's information. ( Id. )

II. Execution of the Search Warrant

On June 4, 2013, the Chicago Police Department ("CPD"), including members of its SWAT team, executed the search warrant on the basement floor apartment at 904 Kedvale, Chicago. During the search, CPD seized a 9mm handgun, a baggie containing approximately 17 grams of heroin, ten rounds of 9mm ammunition, a BB gun pistol, $180 cash, a digital scale, a letter addressed to Mr. Thomas and identification documents reflecting that Defendant lived at that location, and a blue leather jacket. (R. 39-1, Ex. C.); (R. 41, Gov. Resp., at 3.)

During the execution of the search warrant, both Defendant and his girlfriend were present at the apartment. CPD arrested Thomas. Detective Jacobson interviewed Defendant's girlfriend who confirmed that his nickname was "Burpee."

Defendant gave a statement to Detective Jacobson later that morning at the Area North Detective Division. During the statement, Defendant admitted possessing the 9mm pistol found in the leather jacket. He also confirmed that the pistol found near his bed was a BB gun. In addition, Defendant told Detective Jacobson that he was a ranking member of the Four Corner Hustler street gang and had the gun for protection. Defendant explained that he needed to protect himself because he had a $50, 000 bounty on his head because rival gang members believed that he had kidnapped one of their associates.


Defendant contends that the issuing judge lacked probable cause to issue the search warrant because the Complaint came from an unidentified informant "of unknown background and unknown reliability", the informant's claims were uncorroborated, and the information was stale. Accordingly, Defendant contends that the ...

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