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United States v. Thompson

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division

June 6, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff
v.
JAMES JOSEPH THOMPSON, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION TO SUPPRESS

          KAREN E. SCHREIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendant, James Joseph Thompson, is charged in a superseding indictment with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). Docket 82. Thompson moves to suppress all physical evidence seized from his person, his residence, his vehicles, and his storage unit, which evidence was seized pursuant to two search warrants. Docket 78. The motion was referred to a United States magistrate judge for a report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).

         During the evidentiary hearing, the magistrate judge heard testimony from one law enforcement officer and Thompson. During the hearing, documents pertaining to the request for a search warrant and two photographs of Thompson’s residence were entered into evidence. The magistrate judge issued a report and recommended denial of Thompson’s motion to suppress. Docket 105. Thompson objects to the report and recommendation. Docket 106. For the following reasons, the report and recommendation is adopted in part.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), the court should make a de novo review "of those portions of the [magistrate judge’s] report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." Id. "If a party objects to the magistrate judge’s report and recommendation with respect to a dispositive matter, the district court judge must conduct a de novo review of the disputed portion of the magistrate judge’s report and recommendation." United States v. Benitez, 244 F. App’x 64, 66 (8th Cir. 2007). A motion to suppress evidence is a dispositive motion that requires de novo review. Fed. R. Crim. P. 59(b)(1); (3). De novo review in the context of reviewing a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation does not require a new evidentiary hearing and only means a district court "give[s] fresh consideration to those issues to which specific objection has been made by a party." United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 674-75 (1980) (internal quotations and citations omitted). In conducting de novo review, this court may "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also United States v. Craft, 30 F.3d 1044, 1045 (8th Cir. 1994).

         FACTS

         According to the testimony provided and the exhibits introduced at the evidentiary hearing, the pertinent facts are as follows:

         Beginning in 2012, Thompson resided at 1009 North Lowell Avenue in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. On July 9, 2015, the Sioux Falls Police Department (SFPD) received an anonymous tip stating that Thompson was selling methamphetamine and marijuana. The tipster indicated that Thompson was receiving drugs through the mail and that Thompson was a dangerous person. The tipster also provided a physical description of Thompson and his address, phone number, vehicle make and model, and vehicle license plate information.

         On August 10, 2015, SFPD detectives Nick Cook and Terrance Matia conducted surveillance of Thompson’s residence. They noticed a gray Honda matching the description provided in the anonymous tip. They also noticed an A-OK Garbage Service (A-OK) trash container in front of Thompson’s house, located in between the garage’s main door and the pedestrian door.[1]

         On Friday, August 14, 2015, Detective Matia contacted A-OK Garbage Service. A-OK confirmed that it provided garbage removal service for Thompson and that it removed garbage from his home on Tuesdays between 6:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. A-OK agreed to arrange a controlled collection of Thompson’s trash.

         On Tuesday, August 18, 2015, Detective Matia met an A-OK truck driver near Thompson’s house. At that time, Thompson’s trash container was located a few feet in front of the garage door. Detective Matia watched from afar as the A-OK employee rolled the garbage container down the driveway and dumped its contents into the collection area of the truck. The collection area was empty at that time. Detective Matia retrieved the trash from the truck’s collection area moments later.

         Detective Matia took Thompson’s trash to the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office to conduct the search. The trash consisted of three white bags, all of which were tied shut at the top. According to Detective Matia, numerous items connected to drug activity were found in the garbage bags: a heat sealed bag, a Zig Zag Cigarillos package, and eight chemical bottles typically used in marijuana grow sites.

         On August 18, 2015, Detective Matia received a report issued by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent David Keith. The report detailed information obtained from an in-person interview with a confidential Source of Information (SOI). SOI identified the house located at 1009 North Lowell Avenue, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, as the home where "James" lived. SOI informed Special Agent Keith that he or she had ingested methamphetamine at that residence, and that James obtained the methamphetamine from a gallon sized zip lock bag that was apparently full of methamphetamine. SOI also provided a phone number for James that was later identified as Thompson’s phone number. Because SOI had historically provided accurate information, Special Agent Keith believed SOI was credible here as well.

         On August 25, 2015, Detective Matia met an A-OK truck driver to conduct another controlled collection of Thompson’s trash. Detective Matia supervised the trash pull from afar while the A-OK employee rolled Thompson’s trash container down the driveway and dumped the trash into an empty collection area of the truck. From this collection area, Detective Matia obtained four white trash bags that contained the following drug related items: one large heat sealed bag, one piece of a plastic heat sealed bag that contained marijuana residue, two empty packages of marijuana-infused product, ...


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