Heard: November 8, 2018
Complaint received and sworn to in the Dorchester Division of
the Boston Municipal Court Department on September 9, 2016. A
pretrial motion to suppress evidence was heard by Thomas S.
application for leave to prosecute an interlocutory appeal
was allowed by Lowy, J., in the Supreme Judicial
Court for the county of Suffolk, and the appeal was reported
by him to the Appeals Court. After review by the Appeals
Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain
further appellate review.
Julianne Campbell, Assistant District Attorney, for the
William M. Driscoll for the defendant.
Present: Gants, C.J., Gaziano, Lowy, Budd, Cypher, &
defendant, Maurice R. Pridgett, was arrested while sitting
alone in the passenger seat of a motor vehicle that had been
reported stolen. He was charged with receiving a stolen motor
vehicle, subsequent offense, in violation of G. L. c. 266,
§ 28 (a.), and receiving stolen property over $250, in
violation of G. L. c. 266, § 60, in connection with
items found in the motor vehicle. He filed a motion to
suppress his postarrest statements, contending that the
police lacked probable cause to arrest.
in the Boston Municipal Court Department allowed the
defendant's motion following an evidentiary hearing, and
the Commonwealth filed an interlocutory appeal. The Appeals
Court affirmed in an unpublished memorandum and order
pursuant to its rule 1:28. Commonwealth v.
Pridgett, 93 Mass.App.Ct. 1105 (2018). We granted
the Commonwealth's application for further appellate
review, and we conclude, as did the Appeals Court, that there
was insufficient evidence to establish probable cause that
the defendant knew the vehicle was stolen, a requisite
element of the crime of receiving a stolen motor vehicle. G.
L. c. 266, § 28 (a.),  We therefore affirm the order of
the motion judge allowing the defendant's motion to
following facts are derived from the testimony of the police
officer who made the observations of the defendant prior to
his arrest; the testimony of the officer, who was the sole
witness at the suppression hearing, was fully credited by the
working undercover, the officer observed the defendant, who
was leaning on a motor vehicle, talking on a cellular
telephone (cell phone) and looking around. Upon investigating
the vehicle's license plate, the officer learned that the
vehicle had been reported stolen. The officer further
observed the defendant open the vehicle's front
passenger's side door to toss something into the vehicle.
The defendant then shut the door and resumed leaning on the
vehicle. After a period of time, the officer observed the
defendant open the front passenger's side door and sit in
the front passenger's seat. At that point the officer
radioed to uniformed police officers, directing them to
"move in." The uniformed officers removed the
defendant from the vehicle and handcuffed him.
he was read Miranda warnings, the defendant made
incriminating statements including that he knew the motor
vehicle was stolen, and that items recovered from the motor
vehicle during an inventory search may have been stolen. The
defendant filed a motion to suppress his postarrest