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United States v. Betances

United States District Court, D. Maine

May 15, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
JAMIE BETANCES, Defendant

          RECOMMENDED DECISION ON MOTION TO SUPPRESS

          John C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained during and as the result of the stop of a motor vehicle in which Defendant was a passenger on May 10, 2016. (Motion, ECF No. 439.) Defendant contends law enforcement officers lacked the requisite suspicion to stop the vehicle.

         Following a review of the record, and after consideration of the parties' arguments, I recommend the Court deny the motion to suppress.

         Proposed Findings of Fact

         The material facts are largely uncontroverted. Based on the record evidence, [1] I recommend the Court find the following facts:

1. On May 10, 2016, upon receiving a report of suspicious activity, members of the Gardiner (Maine) Police Department made contact with a motor vehicle in which Jeff Berard and Heatherly Wing were located. After a brief investigation, Mr. Berard and Ms. Wing were arrested.
2. Mr. Berard expressed a desire to speak with members of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency (MDEA). Special Agents from MDEA then met with Mr. Berard.
3. Mr. Berard told an agent that he had been working with a man named “Coast” from Rochester, New York, to distribute heroin and crack cocaine in Maine. According to Mr. Berard, his residence on Center Road in Fairfield, Maine (the residence) was used as a stash house for the storage of heroin and crack cocaine until the drugs were distributed.
4. Mr. Berard also informed law enforcement that he had approximately $150, 000 worth of heroin and crack cocaine hidden in the residence in a green duffel bag and that a male named Wes was in the residence with the drugs.
5. Based on the information provided by Mr. Berard, law enforcement requested and obtained a state search warrant to search the residence, and any motor vehicles that Mr. Berard, Ms. Wing or Wes were operating or in which vehicles they were passengers at the time of the execution of the warrant.
6. In anticipation of the issuance of the warrant, MDEA agents conducted surveillance of the residence. The agents observed a number of people going in and out of the residence.
7. At approximately 5 p.m. on May 10, an agent observed a pick-up truck arrive at the residence. Law enforcement knew the truck to belong to a person known to be involved in drug activity. The agent did not identify the suspected owner of the vehicle as the operator of the truck.
8. The operator of the truck entered the residence. Shortly thereafter, the operator left the residence and placed multiple backpack-type bags in the truck. The operator then entered the vehicle and another person got into the passenger side of the vehicle.
9. Upon observing the operator and passenger get into the truck, through a radio communication, the agent asked local law enforcement officers to stop the vehicle. Law enforcement engaged their emergency lights approximately .2 of a mile from the residence, and stopped the vehicle approximately .4 to .45 ...

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