FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
MAINE [Hon. Jon D. Levy, U.S. District Judge]
S. Strassfeld for appellant.
Benjamin M. Block, Assistant United States Attorney, with
whom Halsey B. Frank, United States Attorney, was on brief,
Howard, Chief Judge, Selya and Barron, Circuit Judges.
appeal implicates two issues rooted in the Fourth Amendment.
See U.S. Const. amend. IV. The first involves the
district court's determination that probable cause
existed for the arrest of defendant-appellant Charles Flores;
the second involves the district court's invocation of
the independent source doctrine and its concomitant refusal
to suppress evidence seized during a warrant-backed search of
the appellant's hotel room, notwithstanding the
officers' earlier unlawful entry into that room.
Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment below.
reviewing the denial of a motion to suppress, we "take
the facts as the trial court found them, consistent with
record support, adding uncontradicted facts where
appropriate." United States v.
Almonte-Báez, 857 F.3d 27, 29 (1st Cir.
2017)(internal citation omitted).
case has its genesis in a tip received by Thomas Pappas, a
Maine state trooper with thirteen years of law-enforcement
experience, who was seconded to a federal Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA) task force at the times relevant hereto.
Specifically, Paul Buchanan, a fellow DEA task force member,
told Pappas that he had heard from a reliable informant that
a "group of New Yorkers" was peddling cocaine out
of the Fairfield Inn (a hotel located in Brunswick, Maine).
Buchanan explained that, though the informant did not have
first-hand knowledge of the drug-trafficking enterprise, he
had a history of providing dependable information and had
"participated in a number of cases."
interest piqued, Pappas drove to the Fairfield Inn and was
joined there by another officer. He obtained a guest registry
from the hotel staff and inquired whether any rooms had been
paid for in cash (a practice which, Pappas testified, was
commonly associated with criminal activity because it allowed
perpetrators to avoid a paper trail). He learned that, of the
38 occupied rooms in the hotel, only one - room 131 - had
been rented for cash. Next, Pappas explored the hotel
grounds, noting that room 131 was one of the most easterly
rooms; its windows faced the parking lot at the rear of the
hotel; and it was near a relatively private exit.
officers returned to the front of the hotel, and Pappas spoke
with the front-desk manager. Unprompted, she told the
officers that she suspected they were there to investigate
room 131. That room, she stated, had been rented by a person
who listed a New York address. The room itself was occupied
by a group of men and women, and one of the guests was an
obese black male. Upon registration, the group had initially
been assigned to a second-floor room, asked to be moved, and
was transferred to room 131 (a first-floor room). According
to the manager, there had been an unusual number of visitors
"coming and going on a frequent basis" to and from
the manager's permission, the officers set up shop in a
neighboring room: room 132. Around 5 p.m., Pappas observed a
vehicle pull into the parking space directly adjacent to room
132. A man was driving and a second man was in the front
passenger seat. An obese black male roughly matching the
description previously provided by the front-desk
manager approached the car and got into the back
seat. Pappas saw this man (later identified as the appellant)
shift his weight as if reaching for something. Pappas then
saw the man make an exchange with the front-seat passenger
(though he could not identify what was exchanged). After the
exchange, Pappas saw the appellant counting money in the back
seat and then exit the car. As Pappas recalled it, the entire
interaction took no more than 20 to 30 seconds. Pappas
believed that he had witnessed a hand-to-hand drug
transaction and that the appellant had the proceeds (and
possibly additional drugs) on his person.
after witnessing what he believed to be a drug buy, Pappas
walked outside and saw the appellant near the exit at the
eastern end of the hotel. He noticed that the appellant was
smoking marijuana. After taking a lap around the hotel,
Pappas inquired whether the appellant wanted the outside door
held open. The appellant indicated that he had his own
went inside, asked his fellow officer to accompany him, and
returned to where the appellant was loitering. After
identifying themselves as law-enforcement officers, they
detained the appellant and handcuffed him. Pappas testified
that handcuffs were necessary to ensure officer safety, to
safeguard any evidence that the appellant might have on his
person, and to incapacitate the appellant should any of his
confederates be nearby.
officers proceeded to question the appellant without first
giving him Miranda warnings. See Miranda v.
Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444 (1966). They learned that he
was from New York and was staying in room 131. A search of
the appellant's person disclosed that he was carrying two
cellphones, a keycard, an identification card, and cash.
officers then brought the appellant into the hotel. As they
neared room 131, they thought that they heard voices. Using
the appellant's keycard, the two officers entered the
room. Once inside, they were able to determine that the room
was unoccupied and that the voices they had heard were
emanating from a television set. They performed a security
sweep during which they observed, among other things, some
cash and a mason jar containing marijuana. Pappas testified
that, during this entry, the officers simply glanced around
and did not search the room for, say, drugs, weapons, or the
juncture, the officers started to read the appellant his
Miranda rights. While those rights were being
recited, a woman knocked on the door of room 131 and
explained that she "was sent there by some people from
New York" to check on the appellant. Pappas escorted her
to room 132 and interviewed her there. He asked for her
cellphone, which she surrendered. Checking it, Pappas saw
drug-related messages and confronted the woman about them.
After she tried unsuccessfully to retrieve her cellphone,
Pappas handcuffed her.
called for additional support and proceeded to complete the
administration of the appellant's Miranda
rights. He then asked the appellant for permission to search
room 131. Failing to receive consent, Pappas waited for
reinforcements to arrive so that he could then devote his