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United States v. Stachowiak

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

June 21, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Thomas Daniel Stachowiak, Defendant.

          THOMAS CALHOUN-LOPEZ, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFF.

          SHANNON R. ELKINS, FOR DEFENDANT.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This case is before the Court on Defendant's objections (“Objections”) [Doc. No. 75] to United States Magistrate Judge Katherine Menendez's April 23, 2019 Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) [Doc. No. 72] recommending that this Court deny Defendant's Motion to Suppress Search and Seizure [Doc. No. 51]. For the reasons set forth below, the Court overrules Defendant's Objections, adopts the R&R in full, and denies Defendant's Motion to Suppress.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         1. March 7, 2018 Tracking Order

On March 7, 2018, Saint Paul Police Department Officer Clay Johnson applied for a court order authorizing the instillation and use of a pen register, trap and trace device, and electronic tracking device for a phone number ending in 3856 for a period of 60 days after the order was issued. (Gov't's Ex. 1.) The application also requested stored voice messages, SMS and MMS data, cell site activations, numbers dialed, and other such information. (Id. at 1.) The application specified that it requested a “[l]ocator tool which uses [p]recision [l]ocation and GPS, based on [p]robable [c]ause.” (Id.)

         Officer Johnson submitted an affidavit in support of the application. (Id. at 2.) In the affidavit, Officer Johnson stated that he was investigating Thomas Stachowiak, who was using a phone with a number ending in 3856, “for selling methamphetamine in the Twin Cities Metropolitan area.” (Id.) Officer Johnson averred that any information “likely to be obtained from a pen register, trap and trace, and electronic tracking device is relevant to the ongoing criminal investigation.” Officer Johnson attested that certain additional “facts and circumstances for probable cause” existed. (Id. at 3.) For instance, he stated that a confidential reliable informant (“CRI”) told him that a man named “Tommy S.” was a multi-pound methamphetamine dealer in the Twin Cities Metropolitan area, with a residence near Stillwater, MN and connections to several other houses on the east side of St. Paul (Id.) He also attested to corroborating evidence that he obtained from other confidential informants. (Id.) He further stated that a criminal-history check on Defendant revealed two felony drug convictions from 2001 and 2007. (Id.)

         Moreover, St. Paul Police Department Sergeant Mike Meyer confirmed to Officer Johnson that Defendant was a “known narcotics dealer” and provided a phone number ending in 3856 that he obtained from a report related to Defendant. (Id. at 4.) The same number was linked with Defendant's Facebook page. (Id.)[1]

         On March 3, 2018, three days before Officer Johnson's phone tracking application was submitted, he spoke with the original CRI who stated that Defendant had recently rented a vehicle from Alamo Car Rental to drive to Las Vegas and pick up a large amount of methamphetamine to bring back to the Twin Cities. (Id.) Officer Johnson confirmed that Defendant had indeed rented a vehicle from Alamo Car Rental, providing the 3856 number. (Id.)

         As a result of this information, Officer Johnson applied for a court order for a pen register, trap and trace, and electronic tracking as he believed that the 3856 number was “being used as a means to communicate in an effort to traffic large amounts of narcotics.” (Id.) A Ramsey County District Court Judge signed the application and the requested court order on March 7, 2018, finding “probable cause to believe the information likely to be obtained is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation and possible violation(s) by Thomas Daniel Stachowiak . . . for facilitating the distribution of methamphetamine in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.” (Id. at 6-9.)

         2. April 18, 2018 Tracking Order

         On April 18, 2018, Officer Johnson again applied for a court order authorizing the instillation and use of a pen register, trap and trace device, and electronic tracking device-this time for a phone number ending in 1231 for a period of 60 days after the court order was issued. (Gov't's Ex. 2.) The application similarly specified that it requested a “[l]ocator tool which uses [p]recision [l]ocation and GPS, based on [p]robable [c]ause.” (Id. at 3.)

         Much of the information contained in the application was the same as that presented in the March 7, 2018 application, including corroboration from several confidential informants about Defendant's narcotic trafficking activity and that Defendant had been using a “Latin King” drug connection to obtain this methamphetamine. (Id.) The phone number was connected to a “Tomm Johnson” in police databases. (Id.) Based on his training and experience, Officer Johnson explained that “it is common for narcotic traffickers to utilize a fictitious name in an effort to avoid detection from law enforcement.” (Id.) Furthermore, St. Paul Police Department Officer Longen advised Office Johnson that he had spoken with another CI who knew that Defendant was a “high level methamphetamine dealer” who used a phone with a number ending in 1231. (Id.)

         As a result of this information, Officer Johnson applied for a court order for a pen register, trap and trace, and electronic tracking for the phone number ending in 1231. (Id.) A Ramsey County District Court Judge signed the application and the requested court order on April 18, 2018, finding “probable cause to believe the information likely to be obtained is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation and possible violation(s) by Thomas Daniel Stachowiak . . . for facilitating the distribution of methamphetamine in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.” (Id. at 7.)

         3. September 14, ...


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