United States v. Idleman

Decision Date16 July 2018
Docket NumberCase No.: 2:17-CR-15-02
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of West Virginia



Before the undersigned are Defendant Rocky Idleman's "Motion to Suppress," filed on April 12, 2018, (ECF No. 567), and the Government's response in opposition filed April 25, 2018. (ECF No. 581); as well as Idlelman's motion for a bill of particulars (ECF No. 562) and the Government's response in opposition (ECF No. 578). On April 27, 2018 came Idleman, in person and by counsel Belinda Haynie, Esq., and the Government, by Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Warner, for a hearing on the motions.

Defendant's Motion for a Bill of Particulars

The parties first addressed Idleman's motion for a bill of particulars (ECF No. 562). Idleman's counsel explained that there appeared to be no overlap between the persons and acts identified in the Conspiracy Count (1), and those identified in Counts 33 and 20-23. Moreover, the time period alleged is very broad, and during which Idleman was, for portions of time, incarcerated. As a result, Idleman argued that more details were needed in order to determine what specific overt acts support the conspiracy allegation, and to prepare an adequate defense.

The Government advised the Court that all of the information Idleman seeks was included in discovery provided to Idleman's previous counsel by email, along with a list indicating where specific evidence relating to Defendant Idleman and his charges can be found. Defense Counsel advised she had reviewed the email in question, but questions remained. The Government advised that there is no additional evidence on this point that has not been disclosed and, therefore, no additional particulars to provide.

Pursuant to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, this court may direct the Government to file a bill of particulars. Fed. R. Crim. P. 7(f). Whether a motion for bill of particulars should be granted or denied is a matter within the sound discretion of the trial court. United States v. Schembari, 484 F.2d 931, 934 (4th Cir. 1973). "A bill of particulars identifies for the defendant the area within which the government's chief evidence will fall[, and] . . . its purpose 'is to fairly apprise the defendant of the charges against him so that he may adequately prepare a defense and avoid surprise at trial . . . not . . . to provide detailed disclosure of the government's evidence in advance of trial.'" United States v. Fletcher, 74 F.3d 49, 53 (4th Cir. 1996), quoting United States v. Automated Medical Labs., Inc., 770 F.2d 399, 405 (4th Cir. 1985) (citation omitted)); see also Schembari, 484 F.2d at 934-35. A bill of particulars "amplifies the indictment by providing missing or additional information so that the defendant can effectively prepare for trial." Id., citing United States v. Howard, 590 F.2d 564, 567 (4th Cir. 1979), cert. denied, 440 U.S. 976 (1979).

In addition, when "the Government [has] provided [a defendant] with full discovery," it is a "discovery issue," and a bill of particulars is properly denied. United States v. Najera, 585 Fed. App' x. 185 (4th Cir. 2014) (per curiam). The undersigned advised Defense Counsel that, to the extent she may feel that the evidence is insufficient, such arguments can always be made at the appropriate time. As to the bill of particulars, however, the Government has represented thatfull discovery has been made and will continue to be made as any additional evidence is obtained, and there are no additional "particulars" to provide. Accordingly, the undersigned finds that this is an issue for discovery, and Defendant's motion for a bill of particulars is DENIED.

Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence from the "Ohio [Traffic] Stop"

Turning next to Idleman's motion to suppress, the Court heard testimony from Sgt. Kurt Beidelschies, with the Ohio State Highway Patrol ("OSHP"), of his account of the traffic stop occurring on August 9, 2017. (ECF No. 635 at 21 - 57). Subsequently, on May 5, 2018, Idleman filed a "Supplement to Previously Filed Motion to Suppress" (ECF No. 588); on May 9, 2018, the Government filed a supplemental response in opposition. (ECF No. 595). Accordingly, this motion is now ripe for a report and recommendation to the District Judge.

The undersigned recommends that Idleman's motions be DENIED as to all claims except Idleman's statement denying ownership of the locked box in the vehicle, for the reasons explained below.


Idleman was charged by superseding indictment on December 19, 2017 with conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 846, and 841(b)(1)(A); distribution of methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(C); and three (3) counts of unlawful possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2), and 924(c)(1)(A). (ECF No. 391 at 2, 21-24).

On August 9, 2017, Sgt. Beidelschies was parked in the "crossover," or median, of Interstate 70 ("I-70"), approximately 45 minutes west of Columbus, Ohio, on patrol. Sgt. Beidelschies was able to see at a distance in either direction because that three-lane stretch of I-70 was "very long and very straight." From about a mile to a half-mile away, Sgt. Beidelschies observed a silver Toyota Camry following approximately one-and-a-half car lengths behind atractor-trailer. As the Camry passed him, Sgt. Beidelschies initiated a traffic stop for the offense of "following too close[ly]" in violation of Ohio Revised Code § 4511.34. (ECF No. 584 at 1). Sgt. Beidelschies ran the license plate through dispatch, who reported nothing amiss with the registration. Sgt. Beidelschies then approached the Camry, and found the driver, Idleman; and a female passenger (identified at the hearing as a Ms. Herron). (ECF No. 635 at 21-26).

When Sgt. Beidelschies explained the reason for the stop, Idleman generally agreed he was following the tractor trailer at a distance of approximately one and a half car lengths, though Sgt. Beidelschies noted that Idleman did not appear to know that was a violation of Ohio law. Idleman could not produce a driver's license or a vehicle registration. Per standard protocol, Sgt. Beidelschies had Idleman exit the Camry, patted him down for weapons, and had him sit in the front seat of the patrol car while Sgt. Beidelschies ran Idleman's name and date of birth through dispatch.1 Idleman was compliant. Noticing a large bandage on Idleman's hand, Sgt. Beidelschies asked what had happened; Idleman responded he had recently been shot. While seated in the patrol car, dispatch notified Sgt. Beidelschies that there was a felony warrant for Idleman's arrest. Sgt. Beidelschies requested a backup officer to assist with the felony warrant.2 (ECF No. 635 at 27-29).

During the estimated three-to-five minute wait for backup to arrive, Sgt. Beidelschies asked Idleman about his travels. Idleman said he was driving to New Jersey from Indianapolis to visit family. Idleman could not initially recall the name of his female passenger; eventually, herecalled her name was Erica. Sgt. Beidelschies noted that Idleman appeared "very nervous." (ECF No. 635 at 29-30).

Shortly after Trooper Michael Rucker arrived, dispatch confirmed the validity of the felony warrant. Idleman was asked to step out of the patrol car, informed of the felony warrant, placed in handcuffs, and secured in the back seat of the patrol car.3 (ECF No. 635 at 50). Sgt. Beidelschies then asked Trooper Rucker to deploy his canine ("K9") dog to conduct a sniff around the Camry, based on Idleman's apparent nervousness, recent gunshot wound, and not knowing the name of his passenger (Herron). As Trooper Rucker was walking to his vehicle to get the K-9, Sgt. Beidelschies approached Herron and directed her to step out of the vehicle. As Sgt. Beidelschies opened the passenger door, he saw the muzzle of a handgun and a metal pipe used for smoking marijuana under the passenger seat. At this point, Herron was placed in handcuffs and secured in Trooper Rucker's patrol car. The intended K9 search was never conducted, because the handgun and marijuana pipe were in plain view; Sgt. Beidelschies considered himself to be investigating a potential felony crime. Sgt. Beidelschies then retrieved the handgun (a Glock) and a plastic bag of bullets from underneath the passenger seat. The officers then searched the remaining passenger floor area of the Camry. A loaded Luger 9 millimeter handgun was also found in a woman's purse on the passenger floor.

While Sgt. Beidelschies was securing the handguns, a third officer - Trooper Williamson - arrived on scene to assist. The officers searched the entire vehicle, including the glove compartment and containers within the vehicle. A glass pipe used to smoke methamphetamine was found under the driver's seat. A locked box was found on the floor in front of the driver'sseat. The officers asked both Idleman and Herron if they had a key to the box; both denied ownership of the box. The officers forced the box open and found a "gray, drug-esque substance," small glassine envelopes commonly used in narcotics distribution, a narcotics ledger, and $5,000.00 in cash. While the officers were searching the Camry, Idleman - who was by himself in the patrol car - said out loud, "God damn, I just lost my whole load."4

Sgt. Beidelschies noted that the evidence list for this stop was "extensive," and more items were found in the trunk of the Camry. Idleman's information was also run through the Ohio State Highway Patrol's Criminal Intelligence Unit, which returned a recent arrest in West Virginia. Sgt. Beidelschies was given contact information for a local ATF agent, who advised that Idleman was the subject of a current, ongoing investigation.

Accordingly, at the conclusion of the traffic stop, Herron was turned over to...

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