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United States v. Ridolfi

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

October 6, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee,
v.
COREY RIDOLFI, Defendant, Appellant

As Amended October 10, 2014.

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF RHODE ISLAND. Hon. Mary M. Lisi, U.S. District Judge.

Elizabeth Prevett for appellant.

Donald C. Lockhart, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Peter F. Neronha, United States Attorney, was on brief, for appellee.

Before Lynch, Chief Judge, Howard and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 58

HOWARD, Circuit Judge.

The defendant, Corey Ridolfi, was charged with federal firearms offenses after Cumberland, Rhode Island police found him at the wheel of a car whose trunk was jam-packed with stolen property, including two shotguns. After hearing evidence of Ridolfi's involvement in a recent burglary crime spree, the fruits of which were in the trunk of the car, a jury convicted him of being a felon in possession of

Page 59

one or more firearms and of knowingly possessing one or more stolen firearms. See 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1); id. § § 2 & 922(j). On appeal, Ridolfi primarily challenges the evidentiary sufficiency for his knowing possession of the shotguns. We affirm his convictions.

I

In the early morning hours of November 28, 2011, local police responded to a report of a suspicious person in a residential neighborhood of Cumberland, Rhode Island.[1] At around 4:15 a.m., a caller reported that a man had just rung his doorbell and then walked away from the house. Sergeant Jonathan Cook arrived on site in less than one minute and immediately approached the lone car (a Ford Focus) parked in the neighborhood, about 250-300 feet from the complaining residence. The two men in the vehicle matched the description given bye the caller, including the winter hats with ear flaps worn by both. Ridolfi was in the driver's seat; his cousin Jared Lemay was in the passenger's side.

Ridolfi explained to the officer that he had become lost traveling from his girlfriend's house and had pulled off the main road to use his GPS unit. Ridolfi began perspiring heavily as his conversation with Sergeant Cook continued. A second police officer, David Rosa, soon arrived to assist. He spoke with Ridolfi and Lemay separately, and both men denied ringing the doorbell at the nearby residence. Lemay told Officer Rosa that he had been with Ridolfi all night at the home of Ridolfi's girlfriend in North Attleboro, Massachusetts and that the two were heading to Cumberland where they lived.

Ridolfi's story was that he had spent the night with his girlfriend in North Attleboro and then called Lemay, who was in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, to pick him up. Ridolfi spontaneously displayed his cell phone to the officer as proof of the call. Officer Rosa remarked that the time notation showed that the call had just occurred minutes earlier at 4:08 a.m. and questioned how the two could have traveled such a distance in such a short time. Ridolfi had no explanation, and his nervous behavior increased.

Meanwhile, Sergeant Cook had learned that the Ford Focus was registered to Lemay's father, and that neither Ridolfi nor Lemay had a valid driver's license. He decided to arrest Ridolfi for driving without a valid license and to impound the car since Lemay could not lawfully drive it. Before the tow truck arrived, Sergeant Cook and Officer Rosa conducted an inventory search of the Ford Focus and discovered, among other items, a 20-gauge shotgun shell in plain view on the back seat. When they opened the trunk to continue their accounting, the officers observed that it was filled with boxes and bags stuffed full. Sergeant Cook also noticed two rifle bags buried among the belongings. Because of the sheer volume of the trunk cache, he opted to complete the inventory at the police station. There, ...


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