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United States v. Lewis

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

July 11, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
VAUGHN LEWIS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Patti B. Saris Chief United States District Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Defendant Vaughn Lewis, charged with drug trafficking, moves to suppress all items seized from 7 Raintree Lane, Apartment 7F, Brockton, Massachusetts, and the storage closet located at the Raintree apartment building and all fruits thereof. Defendant argues that the search warrant, on its face, lacked probable cause to believe that any contraband would be located at 7 Raintree Avenue as there was no nexus between any of the alleged activity and that address. Additionally, Defendant argues that any allegations in the search warrant affidavit were stale since all of the observations were made at least three weeks, if not several months, prior. Finally, Defendant contends the search of the storage closet exceeded the scope of the search warrant.

         A hearing was held. One witness, Carmen Depina, the lessee of 7 Raintree Lane, Apartment 7F and Defendant's partner, testified at the hearing. Lewis's Motion to Suppress, Docket No. 198, is DENIED.

         FINDINGS OF FACT

         I. The Investigation

         In October 2015 authorities began an investigation into a drug trafficking organization in Brockton, Massachusetts. Specifically investigators believed that Luis Rivera was running a conspiracy to distribute and distribution of cocaine and crack cocaine.

         Two cooperating witnesses identified Rivera to authorities. Investigators conducted multiple controlled purchases from Rivera totaling over 150 grams of cocaine and 30 grams of cocaine base. Authorities obtained a warrant to tap Rivera's cell phones. Based on these intercepted communications, Vaughn Lewis was identified as an individual who purchased distribution quantities of drugs from Rivera. Investigators were able to identify two locations used by Rivera to distribute cocaine and cocaine base to his customers including 25 Columbia Street, Apartment 1R, Brockton, Massachusetts. Surveillance was established at these locations. Investigators observed Lewis meet with Rivera at 25 Columbia Street on two occasions to be supplied with drugs.

         On February 22, 2016, Lewis contacted Rivera in an attempt to purchase 62 grams and 14 grams of cocaine. Rivera told Lewis to meet him “where you seen me last” to conduct the deal. Based on information learned in the intercepted communications, investigators set up surveillance at 25 Columbia Street to observe the deal. Subsequent observations that day revealed that Rivera engaged in what appeared to be a drug exchange at 25 Colombia Street. While the other party was unidentified, the police observed he operated a gray 2007 Toyota Camry. This vehicle was registered to Carmen Depina who resided at 7 Raintree Lane, Apartment 7F. Based on their surveillance, investigators believed Lewis also resides at 7 Raintree Lane, Apartment 7F.

         Four days later on February 26, 2016, communications between Rivera and Lewis suggested they were going to engage in another drug deal. Rivera texted Lewis that he was “Gucci with some fire.” Based on these communications, surveillance was set up to observe Rivera, at 25 Columbia Street, and Lewis, at 7 Raintree Lane, prior to the deal. Pursuant to this surveillance, investigators observed Lewis enter a black 2010 Nissan outside 7 Raintree Lane. This car was registered to Carmen Depina at 7 Raintree Lane, Apartment 7F, Brockton, Massachusetts. Investigators then observed Lewis, driving the black Nissan, meet with Rivera at 25 Columbia Street. They appeared to engage in a drug deal.

         On March 7, 2016, in an intercepted call between Rivera and Lewis, Lewis told Rivera he still owed Rivera money and that “he hadn't been running around like that” because he was working ten hour days. But, Lewis also stated that he was “about to kick it up again” and that he “needs Sobos.” Investigators interpreted this to mean suboxone, a controlled substance used to treat pain and addiction to narcotics.

         On May 17, 2016, approximately three weeks before the search warrant was issued, Lewis was seen dealing crack cocaine and heroin by Brockton police officers. The police officers observed the black 2010 Nissan engage in two separate drug transactions in a parking lot. The officers subsequently stopped both vehicles that had met with the person in the black Nissan, seizing a small amount of crack cocaine from one vehicle and both heroin and crack cocaine from the other vehicle. Individuals from both vehicles identified Lewis as the person who had sold them the drugs. Twenty minutes later Brockton police officers observed the black Nissan parked in front of 7 Raintree Lane, Apartment 7F.

         Based on the above information, an affidavit in support of a search warrant was filed on June 8, 2016. The search warrant for 7 Raintree Lane, Apartment 7F was signed on June 8, 2016 and the search was executed the same day. Several items were seized as a result of the search: a small knotted baggie which contained a mixture of heroin and fentanyl; a loaded .38 caliber revolver; over 30 rounds of ammunition for a .38 caliber revolver; cocaine base (crack cocaine) in a small, knotted baggie; paraphernalia consistent with the preparation of cocaine base; packaging associated with drug trafficking; a scale consistent with drug trafficking; and paperwork associated with Lewis. The warrant return lists the following items as being found in the storage closet: the loaded .38 caliber revolver, 31 rounds of ammunition, scales and packaging, a knotted plastic bag of white powder, paperwork associated with Lewis, and a black scale.

         II. 7 Raintree Lane & The ...


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