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United States v. Bregu

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

April 21, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
ILIR BREGU, MARIO SCATA, and MANUELE SCATA, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          George A. O'Toole, Jr. United States District Judge

         The defendants, Ilir Bregu, Mario Scata, and Manuele Scata, are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute oxycodone in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. The Scatas are also charged with possession with intent to distribute and to distribute oxycodone in violation of 21 U.S.C § 841(a)(1), and Manuele[1] is further charged with using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A). Bregu and Manuele have moved to suppress evidence they contend was collected in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

         I. Factual Background

         According to the submissions, the government has developed its evidence against the defendants in large part through (1) a series of orders and search warrants obtained from March through June 2015 which permitted access to precise location data of certain cellular telephones and (2) July 2015 search warrants for vehicles and the Scatas' residence. Particularly at issue are search warrants issued by magistrate judges on March 20, 2015, to obtain precise location information for cellular telephone number 609-510-5912 (the “5912 cellular telephone”) associated with Bregu, and on July 14, 2015, to search Bregu's Lincoln Town Car and Manuele's Chevrolet Tahoe.

         A. Search Warrant Application for 5912 Cellular Telephone

         On March 20, 2015, at 12:27 p.m., a magistrate judge issued a warrant for government agents to obtain, among other things, specific latitude and longitude or other precise location information from the 5912 cellular telephone. The affidavit submitted in support of the warrant application by a special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation averred the following relevant facts:

         Beginning in July 2012, a confidential informant (“CI-1”) reported to the FBI that Ilir Bregu and Floart Mino were selling prescription pills, such as OxyContin and/or oxycodone, which they acquired from a source in New York and transported by vehicle to Massachusetts.[2] The special agent identified Bregu as a resident of New York and Mino as a resident of Massachusetts.

         In May 2013, an FBI investigation into Bregu and Mino led to the arrest of Alwyn Kalligheri for possession with intent to distribute oxycodone. Kalligheri reported after his arrest that he worked at D&M Auto Doctor (“D&M”), an automobile repair facility owned by Manuele Scata, and sold oxycodone to the facility's customers. He stated that he had Manuele's permission to sell the pills but Manuele was not involved in the sales. He further stated that Mino was his pill supplier and that Mino's source was located in New York. Kalligheri subsequently pled guilty to the state drug charges.

         In September 2014, a local police confidential informant (“CI-2”) advised that he knew Mario Scata and that Mario had been illegally selling pills for years. He provided Mario's cellular telephone number. The special agent determined that Mario was Manuele's father and was frequently at D&M. Toll records associated with the known telephone numbers used by Kalligheri, Mino, Manuele, and Mario showed that they all had direct telephone contact with each other in the months prior to Kalligheri's arrest. A review of toll records in the fall of 2013 showed that both Kalligheri, then on pre-trial release, and Manuele had direct telephonic contact with Bregu during that time.

         In December 2014, the FBI installed a pole camera outside of a multi-family residence in Revere, Massachusetts. Surveillance showed that Mario resided in the basement apartment. In January 2015, surveillance showed vehicle traffic at the Revere residence consistent with street-level drug trafficking activity. That is, vehicles would frequently park at the driveway entrance or in the street nearby, the driver or passenger would then walk down the driveway toward Mario's basement apartment and return to the vehicle usually within a few minutes, and then the vehicle would leave. Additionally, some individuals were observed to be repeat visitors.

         On February 3, 2015, as revealed by surveillance, a black Lincoln Town Car registered to Bregu at an address in Staten Island, New York pulled into the driveway of the Revere residence. After about forty minutes, the vehicle departed and traveled west toward Connecticut and New York on the Massachusetts Turnpike. Bregu was the driver and only occupant of the vehicle. Data from a pen register installed on Mario's telephone showed that approximately twenty-four minutes before Bregu arrived at the Revere residence, Mario received a short incoming call from the telephone number 609-510-5912, which was a prepaid cellular account without subscriber information. Toll analysis of the 5912 cellular telephone showed it had been used for contacts with Bregu's wife, Bregu's brother, and Mario.

         In early February 2015, a confidential informant (“CI-3”) with a history of reliable reporting told the FBI that Mario illegally sold pills to customers out of his residence. CI-3 also reported that Mario's son “Manny”-a known nickname used by Manuele-was selling illegal pills out of D&M. CI-3 reported that Mario's source for pills was an individual from New York. CI-3 advised that Mario received pill deliveries from his source on a regular basis.

         Analysis of Mario's telephone activity and available pole camera footage revealed that a Town Car appearing identical to the vehicle observed on February 3 arrived and parked in the driveway of the Revere residence after a telephone call or calls from the 5912 number on other dates, including January 21, February 13, February 24, March 4, and March 10, 2015.

         On February 27 and March 10, 2015, CI-3 made two controlled purchases of 30mg tablets of oxycodone hydrochloride pills from Mario inside the Revere basement.

         B. Search Warrant Application for Vehicles[3]

         On July 14, 2015, at 8:59 p.m. and 9:01 p.m., a magistrate judge issued warrants authorizing the search of Bregu's Town Car and Manuele's Tahoe on or before July 28, 2015, at any time in the day or night. The supporting affidavit for the vehicle warrants described the investigation into the defendants, which at that point involved surveillance, controlled purchases of oxycodone from Mario by a confidential informant, analysis of telephone records and pen register data for the defendants, and a series of search warrants to obtain precise location information from cellular telephones. Specifically, the special agent averred the following relevant facts:

         CI-3, under the direction of agents, made multiple controlled purchases of oxycodone pills from Mario at the Revere basement. In addition to the controlled purchases previously described, CI-3 made ...


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