827 F.2d 1414 (10th Cir. 1987), 86-2490, United States v. Skowronski

Docket Nº:86-2490.
Citation:827 F.2d 1414
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. William Michael SKOWRONSKI, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:August 28, 1987
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
 
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Page 1414

827 F.2d 1414 (10th Cir. 1987)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

William Michael SKOWRONSKI, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 86-2490.

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

August 28, 1987

Page 1415

Robert Ramos (Gary Hill, on the brief), El Paso, Tex., for defendant-appellant.

Robert E. Mydans, Asst. U.S. Atty., Oklahoma City, Okl. (William S. Price, U.S. Atty., with him on the brief), for plaintiff-appellee.

Before McKAY, TACHA and BALDOCK, Circuit Judges.

BALDOCK, Circuit Judge.

Defendant-appellant William Skowronski entered a conditional plea of guilty to the second count of a four-count indictment, conspiracy to possess marijuana with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. Sec. 846, reserving the right to appeal the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence.

On March 15, 1985, a confidential source informed the government that someone named "Billy" was transporting large quantities of marijuana from El Paso, Texas to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The source advised that Billy was a truck driver for the Old El Paso Company and passed through Oklahoma City once a week on his regular run from Texas to Missouri. When in Oklahoma City, Billy would contact Terry Smith of Yukon, Oklahoma, to arrange for delivery of the marijuana. Upon receipt of the marijuana, Smith would transport the marijuana to his home in Yukon for distribution.

On April 22, 1985, the source advised the government that Billy would meet with Smith at the Union 76 truckstop in Oklahoma City. The next day, an F.B.I. agent observed an Old El Paso tractor/trailer rig proceed to the Union 76 truckstop and park. The driver remained inside the truck for about 30 minutes. A Cadillac Eldorado approached the Old El Paso truck and pulled up nose-to-nose. The driver, identified

Page 1416

as Smith, entered the passenger side of the tractor. One and one-half hours later, both vehicles departed. Shortly thereafter, the Cadillac Eldorado was seen parked in the driveway of Smith's residence. The F.B.I. agent later checked with Mountain Pass Canning Company, the operators of Old El Paso tractor/trailers, and was told that the defendant William Skowronski, also known as Billy, was the driver of the tractor.

The confidential source advised the government that Billy had delivered another shipment of marijuana, packed in various-sized cardboard boxes, to Smith in Oklahoma City on July 10, 1985. An F.B.I. agent then contacted Mountain Pass and learned that defendant Skowronski drove through Oklahoma City for refueling on his regular route to Neosho, Missouri.

On July 22, 1985, in accordance with information provided by the confidential source, defendant met again with Smith at the Union 76 truckstop. Smith was driving a black GMC pickup of which he was the registered owner. The Old El Paso rig and the GMC truck then proceeded to the Rollins Truck Leasing facility. Smith entered the passenger side of the tractor and remained for about 20 minutes, until he took a large cardboard box from the cab and loaded it in the bed of the GMC truck. Smith then returned to his home. On July 29, 1985, defendant and Smith met at the Union 76 truckstop and then proceeded to the Rollins truck facility. Smith entered the passenger side of the tractor for about 10 minutes and then both vehicles left. Shortly thereafter, the GMC pickup was seen parked in the driveway of Smith's residence.

In October 1985, the confidential source informed the government agent concerning financial arrangements for the transactions between defendant and Smith. According to a fellow worker, in the summer of 1984 Smith's wife had shown her fellow workers $1000 in cash and told them that it was part of the proceeds from her husband's drug dealing.

In February 1986, the dispatcher for Mountain Pass advised that defendant would travel through Oklahoma City on his regular route. On February 17, 1986, agents observed defendant at the Rollins truck facility. Smith then arrived in a 1971 blue Oldsmobile and left with defendant. When they returned, they both got into the Old El Paso tractor and Smith removed two cardboard boxes from the tractor and loaded them into the trunk of the Oldsmobile. Smith was seen driving the Oldsmobile to his house.

Informed by the dispatcher at Mountain Pass that defendant would travel through Oklahoma City on his regular route, the agent observed another meeting between defendant and Smith at the Union 76 truckstop in Smith's GMC truck on March 24, 1986. The two left for the Rollins truck facility where they stood near the passenger side of the tractor and defendant opened the tool compartment behind the passenger door and gave Smith a small package. Smith then placed the package in the cab of the GMC truck and departed to his residence.

On April 4, 1986, the Mountain Pass dispatcher indicated that defendant would travel to Oklahoma City on his route. Based upon the above and other information, the federal agents obtained search warrants to search the Smith residence and the Old El Paso tractor on April 7, 1986. That evening, defendant arrived in the tractor at the Rollins truck facility. Smith arrived later driving a 1981 Buick. The agents then observed a meeting between the two in the cab of the tractor. Both men then carried a cardboard box to the rear of the Buick. The box was placed in in the trunk. The trunk lid was closed and the federal agents arrested Smith and defendant and executed the search warrant on the tractor. The F.B.I. agent testified that the Buick "was seized at the time for forfeiture purposes and ultimately inventoried and taken back to our office." Rec. vol. II at 14. A search of the Buick revealed a little more than eight pounds of marijuana wrapped in a plastic trash bag and placed in a cardboard...

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