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United States v. Bain

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

February 17, 2015



INDIRA TALWANI, District Judge.

I. Introduction

On April 30, 2014, a federal grand jury indicted Defendant Yrven Bain for distribution of heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), possession with intent to distribute heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Bain now moves to suppress evidence seized during the execution of a search warrant. For the reasons discussed below, the court denies Bain's motion.

II. Factual Background

a. Search Warrant Application

In early 2014, law enforcement began an investigation of Bain for suspected drug-dealing activity. Pursuant to that investigation, officers applied for and were granted a search warrant for 131 Laurel Street, Apartment D in Malden, Massachusetts. The warrant application included an affidavit by Brian Connerney, a Task Force Agent with the Boston office of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA") and fourteen-year veteran of the Arlington Police Department. The affidavit provided the following information to establish probable cause:[1]

At the outset of the investigation, officers determined that Bain had three prior convictions for drug-trafficking offenses (including convictions in 2001, 2003, and 2007) and was on probation for his 2007 conviction. Officers further determined that Bain drove a brown Cadillac registered in his name at his mother's address at 32 Henderson Street in Arlington.

Officers worked with a confidential witness ("CW-1") to conduct two controlled purchases of heroin from Bain. The first controlled purchase took place on February 26, 2014, outside of an apartment complex at 685 Moody Street in Waltham. After CW-1 sent a text message to Bain's phone and was provided with $100 and a recording device, agents observed a man later identified as Bain exit the rear door of the apartment complex, get into CW-1's car, drive around the block, and exit the car. CW-1 turned in the purchased substance to officers. A subsequent analysis by the DEA determined the substance to be.80 grams of heroin mixed with fentanyl. Also on February 26, 2014, officers observed Bain's brown Cadillac parked in the parking lot of 685 Moody Street.

On March 1, 2014, Bain was charged in Waltham District Court with assault and battery for allegedly assaulting his brother at 685 Moody Street in Waltham. Bain's brother informed officers that Bain had been living with him at his 685 Moody Street apartment. Bain was held in custody until March 17, 2014. At the time of his release, Bain informed his probation officer that he would live at his mother's residence at 32 Henderson Street in Arlington. Agent Connerney states that "[s]ince his release, I have never seen Bain at his mother's residence, nor have I seen the Brown Cadillac parked there." Agent Connerney, however, does not indicate if and on what dates he conducted surveillance at the 32 Henderson Street address.

On March 21, 2014, four days after Bain's release, CW-1 sent a text message to Bain's phone to arrange another controlled buy. Bain arranged to meet CW-1 on Waite Street in Malden. CW-1 was again provided $100 and a recording device. While conducting surveillance of Waite Street, officers observed Bain walking from Church Street onto Waite Street. Officers then observed Bain enter CW-1's car, drive around the block, and exit the car. CW-1 turned in a substance that field-tested positive for the presence of heroin. This exchange took place within a few blocks of 131 Laurel Street in Malden-the location of the subsequent search.

After the controlled purchase on March 21, 2014, officers observed Bain's Cadillac parked near 131 Laurel Street at 2:35 p.m. on March 28, 2014, and at 12:30 a.m. on March 29, 2014. Officers also saw Bain enter the building at 131 Laurel Street on March 28, 2014.

On March 31, 2014, Agent Connerney applied for and obtained an arrest warrant for Bain. On April 1, 2014, at approximately 9:00 a.m., officers established surveillance of 131 Laurel Street and observed Bain's Cadillac parked nearby on Webster Street. Officers observed Bain exit the front door of 131 Laurel Street and walk towards his Cadillac. When officers approached to place Bain under arrest, Bain locked himself in his car and swallowed something. The officers then removed Bain from the car, placed him under arrest, and took him to the hospital because the officers believed what he swallowed to be drugs.

At the time of Bain's arrest, officers took a set of keys from Bain. Officers then went to 131 Laurel Street with the keys. Officers noted that there were four mailboxes outside the door to the building, and Bain's name was not on any of the mailboxes. Officers used the keys to open the front door to 131 Laurel Street. Officers then tested the keys in one door on the first floor and two doors on the second floor of the building. Officers determined that Bain's keys fit the door to Apartment D. There was no marking on the door of the apartment. Officers then entered the apartment. While walking through the apartment, officers observed in plain view a parking ticket issued for Bain's Cadillac, a safe being used as a television stand, and mail with an address of 131 Laurel Street, Apartment D.

Based on the above evidence, Agent Connerney stated his belief that, after Bain moved out of his brother's apartment, Bain was residing at 131 Laurel Street, Apartment D, and used the residence in connection with his drug-dealing activities. Agent Connerney further opined that, based on his training and experience, individuals who distribute controlled substances typically maintain records, cash, and other evidence related to their drug trafficking where they reside.

b. 131 Laurel Street

Based on the information contained in the Connerney Affidavit (and attached picture), the warrant, and the affidavit and pictures provided by defense counsel, the layout of 131 Laurel Street is as follows. 131 Laurel Street is "a two-and-a-half story home" with a hedge surrounding the front yard. The front door is accessed by a set of stairs rising from the sidewalk running along Laurel Street. On the exterior of the building, next to the front door, are four mailboxes and four buzzers. The front door was locked on April 1, 2014, at the time of the officers' entry. Inside the front door, the first floor contains the door to one apartment unit and the entry to a staircase, which makes two turns before arriving at a second-floor landing. The second-floor landing contains the doors to two apartment units.[2] The door to Apartment D is on the right-hand side and is located directly across from, and a few feet from the top of, the staircase. The door to the neighboring unit appears to be one-to-two feet to the left of the door to Apartment D.[3]

c. Execution of the Search Warrant

On April 1, 2014, a United States Magistrate Judge issued a warrant authorizing the search of 131 Laurel Street, Apartment D, for documents, records, and U.S. currency related to drug trafficking. That same day, officers executed the search warrant. Inside the apartment, officers found an electronic scale, a.45 caliber firearm and.45 caliber ammunition, heroin, pills, identification cards in Bain's name, cash, and a machine to press and manufacture credit cards.

III. Discussion

The affidavit in support of the search warrant explains that "[a]gents went to 131 Laurel Street in order to identify which apartment BAIN lived in." The affidavit then sets forth the steps the agents took to ...

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