48 F.3d 1217 (4th Cir. 1995), 94-5225, U.S. v. Johnson

Docket Nº:94-5225.
Citation:48 F.3d 1217
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Joseph JOHNSON, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:March 06, 1995
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Page 1217

48 F.3d 1217 (4th Cir. 1995)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Joseph JOHNSON, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 94-5225.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

March 6, 1995

Editorial Note:

This opinion appears in the Federal reporter in a table titled "Table of Decisions Without Reported Opinions". (See FI CTA4 Rule 36 regarding use of unpublished opinions)

Submitted Jan. 31, 1995.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, at Richmond. James R. Spencer, District Judge. (CR-93-19)



Elizabeth Dashiell Scher, MORCHOWER, LUXTON & WHALEY, Richmond, VA, for Appellant. Helen F. Fahey, United States Attorney, Stephen W. Miller, Assistant United States Attorney, Richmond, VA, for Appellee.

Before WILKINS and LUTTIG, Circuit Judges, and BUTZNER, Senior Circuit Judge.



Joseph Johnson appeals his conviction on numerous drug and firearms charges. Johnson asserts that the district court improperly denied his motion to suppress evidence and motion to subpoena a witness, and that insufficient evidence existed to convict him of one charge. Finding no error, we affirm.

Johnson was indicted in a fifteen-count indictment in November 1993. The indictment charged him with being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C.A. § 922(g) (West Supp.1994), making false statements to obtain firearms in violation of 18 U.S.C.A. § 924(a)(1)(A) (West Supp.1994), and conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute and to distribute in excess of fifty grams of cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 (1988). The indictment also charged Johnson with possession with the intent to distribute and distribution of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C.A. § 841 (West 1981 & Supp.1994) and carrying and using firearms in relation to drug crimes in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (West Supp.1994).

A jury convicted Johnson on all but two counts. Johnson was sentenced to an aggregate term of 248 months. Johnson timely appealed, averring that the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress certain statements and in denying his request for issuance of a subpoena for a witness. Johnson also alleged that the Government presented insufficient evidence to support his conviction on one of the drug charges. Johnson does not challenge the sentences imposed for his convictions.

The events leading to Johnson's convictions are relatively straightforward. Johnson, a convicted felon, obtained numerous guns from the Virginia Police Equipment Company ("VPEC"), a federally licensed firearms dealer in Richmond, Virginia. In December 1990 and January 1991, Johnson purchased the guns himself. In the course of making the purchases, Johnson signed a Federal Firearms Transaction Record falsely stating that he had not previously been convicted of a felony.

In March 1991, Johnson persuaded Kevin Fobbs to obtain some guns for him. Fobbs purchased seven pistols for Johnson on March 5, 1991. Upon returning home that evening, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms ("ATF") approached Fobbs regarding his purchase that day. Fobbs acknowledged that he had purchased the firearms for an individual known to him as "Joe." Fobbs identified Johnson's residence as 555 Laburnum Avenue in Richmond, Virginia, identified Johnson's car as a yellow Toyota, and gave the ATF agents a description of Joe. Fobbs told the agents that Joe was connected with a drug distribution operation located in the 1300 block of West Cary Street in Richmond and that Fobbs was taking the firearms to that location.

Fobbs became an informant for the agents' investigation. On April 4, 1991, Fobbs notified the ATF agents that Joe had again requested his help in purchasing firearms. The agents set up surveillance outside VPEC and observed as Fobbs, Johnson, and a third person arrived. Fobbs and Johnson entered the store. Soon thereafter, the agents saw Fobbs exit the store. Fobbs testified that he signed the federal firearms form and left. Johnson remained inside the store for fifteen minutes. Fobbs then re-entered the store and emerged several minutes later with Johnson. Johnson was carrying a package which Fobbs later testified contained three firearms signed for by Fobbs.

The ATF agents followed Johnson and Fobbs to Parkwood Avenue, near the 1300 block of West Cary Street. Johnson carried the firearms package through...

To continue reading