United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
E. SEIBERT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
7, 2016, the Defendant, Shawndale Saunders, was named in a
two-count Indictment. ECF No. 1. Count One alleges that he
conspired to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base.
Count Two alleges the use of a telephone to facilitate
distribution of cocaine base.
February 28, 2017, the Court held an evidentiary hearing and
argument regarding several of the Defendant's motions.
The Defendant appeared in person and by counsel, Frankie C.
Walker, II, Esq. The Government appeared by its counsel
Stephen L. Vogrin, Esq.
Report and Recommendation addresses only the Defendant's
motions that argue for the suppression of evidence. In these
motions, the Defendant raises several distinct arguments,
however, the crux of his several motions is that the
affidavits supporting two search warrants were so lacking as
to render the search warrants without probable cause. The
Court finds that the affidavits were sufficient to support a
finding of probable cause. Therefore, the search warrants
were valid. Thus, the Court is unpersuaded by each of the
Starkey is an officer with the Belmont County Ohio Major
Crimes Unit. On May 23, 2016, Officer Starkey was contacted
by Detective Dave Drahos of the Wheeling, West Virginia
Police Department regarding the Defendant. Detective Drahos
informed Officer Starkey that a large amount of crack cocaine
was seized in the Northern District of West Virginia.
Detective Drahos believed that the seized drugs were supplied
by the Defendant. Detective Drahos further believed that the
drugs were “fronted” thus, the drugs were
provided on consignment and the individual in possession of
the drugs still owed approximately $7, 300 to the Defendant
as payment for the drugs. The individual to whom the drugs
were fronted was willing to cooperate as a confidential
arranged for the CI to pay the Defendant for the previously
fronted drugs. The officers provided the CI with $7, 300 in
marked dollar bills and wired the CI with an audio and video
recording device. The officers observed the CI enter and exit
the Defendant's residence. However, the officers did not
search the CI before he entered the Defendant's
residence. After the $7, 300 was paid for the previously
fronted drugs and additional crack cocaine was fronted, the
officers picked up the CI and recovered a large amount of
crack cocaine, which the CI stated he acquired from the
the delivery of the $7, 300 and the new fronted crack
cocaine, Officer Starkey drafted an affidavit and application
for a search warrant for the Defendant's residence.
Officer Starkey emailed the affidavit to the local prosecutor
for review. The prosecutor advised that it “looked
good.” At 8:30 p.m., Officer Starkey presented the
affidavit to Belmont County Judge Chris Berhalter. Judge
Berhalter reviewed the affidavit and issued the search
warrant. The search warrant authorized the search for
“drugs, drug paraphernalia, guns, safe, cash, ledger,
scales, electronic devices such as cell phones, computers,
tablets, cameras or recording systems and the contents
thereof that were either purchased, used or facilitated the
use of drug transactions” located at “417 N. 7th
St. upstairs rear apartment on the south side of the
structure Martins Ferry, Oh 43935.” The officers
executed the warrant and seized a variety of evidence related
to drug trafficking.
the payment of the $7, 300 and additional crack cocaine was
fronted, officers initiated a traffic stop of the Defendant.
The officers arrested him for trafficking cocaine. The
officers found $7, 300 in cash and four cellphones. Officer
Starkey applied for a second search warrant to search the
contents of the cellphones. The affidavit cited evidence of
drug trafficking discovered in the search of the residence as
well as Officer Starkey's experience that the cellphones
may lead to information regarding drug trafficking. Judge
Berhalter issued the warrant. The search of the cellphones
contents was performed in London, Ohio.
Defendant's motions argue several different legal
theories. Therefore, the legal standards and analysis will be
addressed for each motion separately.
ECF No. 17 Motion to ...