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United States v. Donald

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

May 23, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
DANIEL DONALD Defendant

          FINDINGS AND ORDERS ON DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS TO SUPPRESS

          TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN, DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Introduction

         The Defendant, Daniel Donald is charged with various drug and firearm offenses. He has moved to suppress from the introduction into evidence against him at trial, the results of installation of a GPS tracking device (Document 113), any and all evidence seized pursuant to a search warrant (Document 115), and certain statements that he made to law enforcement officials while in custody (Document 117). For the reasons set forth below those motions are denied.

         Background

         On May 19, 2017, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent David DiTullio applied for and received a warrant authorizing the installation of a GPS tracking device on a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee, registered to Robert Young of 13 Groton Place, Worcester, Massachusetts, and a 2012 Cadillac Escalade registered to the Defendant Donald, at 16B Shrewsbury Green Drive, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

         In his affidavit in support of that application Agent DiTullio informed that in October of 2016, the management company of an apartment complex in Westborough had expressed “concerns” to the Westborough Police about the occupants of an apartment in the complex in October of 2016. Specifically, that Neckia Madden was the lessee of the apartment but that Young and Donald appeared to be living there.[1] That same month, during a maintenance visit to the apartment, an employee of the management company observed a moneycounter in the apartment, which was reported to the authorities. The affidavit also related that Madden was an exotic dancer at an adult entertainment business.[2]

         A criminal record check revealed that the Defendant had at least eight prior drug convictions in state court and had served time in state prison for possession with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine, and oxycodone. At the time of the investigation the Defendant was on probation for assault and battery. Robert Young had four prior state court drug convictions, and Neckia Madden was defending charges in the Westborough District Court for possession with intent to distribute a Class B substance at the time the affidavit was executed. The affidavit also related that in March of 2017, a high capacity Glock magazine with one round was found outside the entrance to the building. That building contains 63 apartments.

         On May 2, 2017, a surveillance team followed the Defendant, Young, and Ms. Madden from the PARC Apartment Complex to Newton. The three travelled in the Cadillac Escalade and the Jeep Cherokee to a commercial automotive garage in Newton where they exhibited behavior that was consistent with drug dealing and which included establishing counter surveillance. Agent DiTullio opined in his affidavit that they traveled to Newton to purchase drugs and that Young acted as a lookout. He also related that the premises was identified in 2013 as the site of several meetings between the co-conspirators of “a major drug trafficking conspiracy.” On May 9, 2017, the agents observed the Defendant, Young, and an unidentified female travel in a white Cadillac (not one of the subject vehicles) to 13 Groton Place, in Worcester. Shortly after they arrived the police observed activity that was consistent with street drug sales; at different times, two vehicles arrived, the drivers entered 13 Groton Place, exited within two minutes, then left the area.

         On November 30, 2017, Agent DiTullio applied for, and received, a warrant to search the apartment at 13 Groton Place, in Worcester, Massachusetts. Groton Place is a stand-alone building at the rear of a multi-family unit. The initial search did not reveal any drugs inside the apartment. However, after the initial search was complete, Worcester Police Officer Gaffney who was stationed outside of the apartment noticed that the vinyl siding to the apartment had a bump to it. That bump was a “hide” between the interior and exterior walls of the apartment. Inside of the hide the agents located a kilogram of cocaine, 400 grams of heroin, 88 grams of cocaine base, dozens of fentanyl pills, and a Smith and Wesson 9 mm pistol.

         At the time of the execution of the search warrant at the 13 Groton Place, the Defendant Donald was on the premises and was arrested. He was advised of his Miranda Rights orally and through the use of a written form which he signed acknowledging that he received and understood those rights. The Defendant invoked his privilege against self-incrimination and chose not to speak to the officers at that time. The Defendant's arrest and Miranda warnings proceeded the discovery of the hide and the Defendant was aware that the contraband was found in the hide when he was transported to the Worcester Police Department for processing.

         At the station the following exchange took place in an interview room:

[1:16] Morris: I'm just gonna remind you that at the house I Mirandized you, read you your rights, you understood those right . . .
Donald: Yep.
Morris: . . . you signed the form saying you understood them. Um, everything's Still the same and, um, you know if you wish to talk with us, if you want to stop at any ...

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