739 F.2d 220 (6th Cir. 1984), 83-3510, United States v. Savoca

Docket Nº:83-3510.
Citation:739 F.2d 220
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Thomas James SAVOCA, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:July 17, 1984
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

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739 F.2d 220 (6th Cir. 1984)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Thomas James SAVOCA, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 83-3510.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

July 17, 1984

Argued May 1, 1984.

Opinion on Granting of Rehearing Sept. 20, 1984.

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Carl H. Miller (argued), Painesville, Ohio, for defendant-appellant.

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J. Matthew Cain (argued), Randolph Baxter, Asst. U.S. Attys., Cleveland, Ohio, for plaintiff-appellee.

Before JONES and CONTIE, Circuit Judges, and PECK, Senior Circuit Judge.

CONTIE, Circuit Judge.

Thomas James Savoca appeals from his conviction by a jury on two counts of bank robbery. 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2113(a) and (d). We hold that the search warrant used to seize incriminating evidence from a motel room occupied by Savoca at the time of his arrest was invalid under this court's ruling in United States v. Hatcher, 473 F.2d 321 (6th Cir.1973). We therefore reverse the defendant's conviction and remand this case for a new trial.


On June 3, 1981, a single assailant robbed the State Bank and Trust Company in Painesville, Ohio and escaped with almost $99,000. The assailant was armed and wore a rubber mask to conceal his identity. Thereafter, on October 27, 1981, two men robbed the Firestone Bank in Brunswick, Ohio of almost $69,000. These robbers were also armed and also wore rubber masks. Finally, on January 13, 1982, three armed assailants robbed the Andover Bank in Austinburg, Ohio and escaped with almost $146,000. Like the two previous robberies, these men wore rubber masks to hide their identity.

The ensuing FBI investigation resulted in the issuance of federal arrest warrants which charged Savoca and an accomplice, James Carey, with the Andover Bank robbery. These warrants were issued on April 19, 1982, or approximately three months after the robbery. Prior to the issuance of the arrest warrants, FBI agents discovered that Savoca and his wife were living in Phoenix, Arizona. Armed with this information, FBI agents in Phoenix conducted a series of "spot checks" of Savoca's residence to determine if the residence was occupied and to identify any vehicles in the driveway. The agents also staked out room 135 at the Arizona Ranch House Inn after one agent followed a vehicle from Savoca's residence to that address. The room was registered under the name of George Goodson, but one agent recognized that name as an alias used by James Carey. At approximately 12:30 p.m. on April 20, 1982, several agents saw a small white station wagon pull up in front of room 136. Two men exited the vehicle and proceeded immediately into room 135. At this point, the agents knew of the outstanding arrest warrants for Savoca and Carey and thus the agents formulated an arrest plan. Shortly thereafter, Savoca and Carey exited room 135 and were placed under arrest. The record also indicates that Carey was shot when he attempted to re-enter the motel room.

Following the arrests, the agents secured a search warrant which authorized a search of the motel room for "weapons, disguises, U.S. currency, and ficticious identification." 1 The supporting affidavit reads as follows:

Affiant learned from James Cornett, F.B.I. Agent, that Federal Bureau of Investigation Agents of the Phoenix, Arizona Office were at 5600 North Central, ARIZONA RANCH HOUSE INN, Room 135, conducting a surveillance on two known bank robbery suspects, identified as JAMES GERMIS CAREY, W/M 10-4-32, and THOMAS JAMES SAVOCA, W/M 2-10-52. Both subjects had outstanding Federal warrants, charging them with Bank Robbery, out of Austinburg, Ohio. They both were seen in Room 135, April 19 and 20, 1982.

At approximately 12:48 p.m., SUBJECT THOMAS J. SAVOLA [sic] exited Room 135 and was getting into the 1982 Buick, Ohio plates, BLU-212, when subject was taken into custody by Federal Bureau of Investigation Agents. The second subject, JAMES CAREY, started back into Room 135 and was shot by Steve Chenoweth,

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F.B.I. Agent, who believed he was going for a weapon. Both subjects were taken into custody by Federal Bureau of Investigation Agents at 5600 North Central.

Both subjects, JAMES G. CAREY and THOMAS J. SAVOCA, are responsible for approximately four (4) bank robberies in Northeastern Ohio and Northwestern Pennsylvania. Information was that subject CAREY wouldn't be taken alive.

The search of the motel room resulted in the seizure of, inter alia, several handguns, several pieces of false identification, and several plastic masks. This evidence was introduced against Savoca at trial. Savoca was later convicted by a jury on two counts of bank robbery. 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2113(a) and (d). Defendant appeals.


The defendant initially contends that he was denied his statutory right to a speedy trial under the Speedy Trial...

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