United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS TO SUPPRESS
Torresen United States Chief District Judge
me are Defendant Jose Febles' motion to suppress and
supplemental motion to suppress. Def.'s Mot. to Suppress
(ECF No. 105); Def.'s Suppl. Mot. to Suppress (ECF No.
145). A hearing was held on the initial motion on March 7,
2017. For the reasons stated on the record at the hearing, I
find that Officer McGee had probable cause to arrest
co-defendant Gargallo for the crime of credit card fraud.
From this, I also find Officer McGee had authority to search
the Jeep in which Gargallo, Febles, and a third co-defendant
were riding at the time of their arrest for evidence of the
crime of credit card fraud, including the wallet found on the
seat of the vehicle. In addition, for the reasons stated on
the hearing record, I find that Officer McGee had probable
cause to arrest Defendant Jose Febles. The contents of
Febles' wallet are not, therefore, inadmissible as the
fruit of the poisonous tree.
record also does not support Febles' argument that his
Miranda waiver was invalid due to language and
cultural barriers. A valid Miranda waiver must be,
under the totality of the circumstances, voluntary and
knowing and intelligent. United States v.
Bezanson-Perkins, 390 F.3d 34, 39 (1st Cir. 2004). A
waiver is voluntary where it is not the product of
intimidation or coercion, and it is knowing and intelligent
where the defendant is advised of his right to silence and
counsel and understands that any statements may be used as
evidence against him. Id. Upon review of the
Interrogation Transcription and Translation, I find that
Deputy Raphael Mendoza read the Miranda warnings to
Febles in English and Spanish, Febles indicated in Spanish
that he understood the warnings, and Febles said that he
would speak with the officers without an attorney present.
Interrogation Transcription and Translation 4-7 (ECF No.
148). Accordingly, I find that the Government has met its
burden to establish a valid Miranda waiver.
also cannot prevail on his claim that his statements were
involuntary due to language and cultural barriers. The Fifth
Amendment provision against self-incrimination renders
inadmissible statements coerced from a defendant. Chavez
v. Martinez, 538 U.S. 760, 770 (2003); Colorado v.
Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 167 (1986). A court's
determination of voluntariness turns on whether, under the
totality of the circumstances, the law enforcement officials
obtained the evidence by overbearing the defendant's
will. United States v. Jacques, 744 F.3d 804, 809
(1st Cir. 2014). Factors include the nature of the police
activity, such as the location of the questioning, whether
Miranda warnings were given, and whether the accused
initiated contact with law enforcement, and also the
accused's characteristics, such as age, prior experience
with the criminal justice system, and physical and mental
condition. Id.; United States v. Hughes,
640 F.3d 428, 438 (1st Cir. 2011); see also United States
v. Shi, 525 F.3d 709, 730 (9th Cir. 2008) (finding the
defendant's confession voluntary, in part because
Miranda warnings were given in the defendant's
as Detective Gerard Brady testified at the suppression
hearing, Febles' interrogation took place in a
windowless, secure room at the Cumberland County Jail.
Detective Brady and Deputy Mendoza were the only two officers
in the room. Deputy Mendoza obtained a valid Miranda
waiver from Febles and proceeded to ask Febles questions in
Spanish, which Febles indicated he preferred. The officers
were unarmed and in plain clothes, spoke to Febles without
raising their voices, and did not make any threats or
promises. The interrogation lasted approximately forty
minutes. Detective Brady described Febles as calm, unafraid,
cooperative until the end of the interview, when Febles
indicated he wanted to stop. In addition, several of
Febles' characteristics weigh in favor of voluntariness,
including that Febles has lived in the United States for
approximately ten years, he is twenty-nine years old, and he
has some criminal justice system experience through two prior
arrests (one in 2010, the other in 2015). Gov's Opp'n
to Def.'s Mot. to Suppress 18 (ECF No. 111). Under the
totality of these circumstances, I find that the language and
cultural barriers Febles may have faced were not so
significant as to render his statements involuntary.
in a supplemental motion to suppress, Febles challenges the
scope of the search of the laptop, pursuant to the execution
of a search warrant for the Jeep. Def.'s Suppl. Mot. to
Suppress. Febles asserts that the affidavit supporting the
warrant is “insufficient on its face to establish the
requisite indicia of probable cause to search the laptop
computer to the extent the laptop computer was
searched” by the U.S. Secret Service Maine Computer
Crimes Unit. Def.'s Suppl. Mot. to Suppress 1. The search
warrant authorized the seizure of any “computers”
within the Jeep, to be searched “for victim
information.” Warrant (ECF No. 145). I find that the
affidavit established probable cause that the computers found
in the co-defendants' vehicle would contain credit card
fraud victim information and that the search did not exceed
the scope of the warrant.
reasons stated above, the Defendant's motion to suppress
and the Defendant's ...