United States v. Thorne, Criminal Action No. 18-389 (BAH)

CourtUnited States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
Writing for the CourtChief Judge Beryl A. Howell
PartiesUNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. LINWOOD DOUGLAS THORNE, Defendant.
Docket NumberCriminal Action No. 18-389 (BAH)
Decision Date30 June 2021

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
LINWOOD DOUGLAS THORNE, Defendant.

Criminal Action No. 18-389 (BAH)

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

June 30, 2021


Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Table of Contents

I. BACKGROUND ..................................................................................................................... 2

A. Investigation and Apprehension of Defendant ................................................................... 3

1. August 2018 Undercover Transactions ......................................................................... 3
2. November 2018 Undercover Transactions ................................................................... 5
3. Searches of Dou Perfect and the Foote Street Address ................................................. 8
4. Fugitive Investigation and Defendant's Arrest ........................................................... 10
5. Search of Linden Avenue Address Incident to Defendant's Arrest ............................ 13

B. Procedural History ............................................................................................................ 15

II. DISCUSSION ....................................................................................................................... 17

A. Defendant's Renewed Motions to Suppress Evidence Recovered During Foote Street and Barbara Lane Searches ............................................................................................... 18

1. Reconsideration of Foote Street and Barbara Lane Warrants ..................................... 20
2. Applicable Legal Standards ........................................................................................ 23
a. Probable Cause ...................................................................................................... 23
b. Particularity and Overbreadth ............................................................................... 24
3. Analysis of Foote Street Warrant ................................................................................ 25
a. Particularity ........................................................................................................... 25
b. Overbreadth ........................................................................................................... 28
c. Errors in Filing of Warrant Return ........................................................................ 32
d. Alleged Factual Errors in Migliara Affidavit and Probable Cause ....................... 34
i. Probable Cause for the Foote Street Warrant ................................................. 35

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ii. Factual Inaccuracies Immaterial to Probable Cause ....................................... 38
e. Franks Hearing Not Warranted ............................................................................ 40
4. Analysis of Barbara Lane Warrant ............................................................................. 44
a. Particularity ........................................................................................................... 44
b. Overbreadth ........................................................................................................... 48
c. Errors in Filing of Warrant Return ........................................................................ 50
d. Alleged Factual Errors in Smith Affidavit and Probable Cause ........................... 53
i. Probable Cause for the Barbara Lane Warrant ............................................... 53
ii. Factual Inaccuracies Immaterial to Probable Cause ....................................... 54
e. Franks Hearing Not Warranted ............................................................................ 56

B. Defendant's Motion to Suppress Fruits of Law Enforcement Use of Cell-Site Simulator ........................................................................................................................... 58

1. Description of Investigative Techniques Related to Cell Phone Location ................. 58
a. Cell-Site Simulators .............................................................................................. 59
b. GPS "Pinging" ...................................................................................................... 62
2. Venue Under Rule 41 .................................................................................................. 64
a. Applicable Legal Standard .................................................................................... 64
i. Principles Guiding Interpretation of Rule 41 .................................................. 65
ii. Plain-Text Reading of Rule 41(b)(2) Produces Absurd Results ..................... 69
iii. Constitutional Policies and Precedent Favor a Flexible Reading of Rule 41 ............................................................................................................ 74
iv. Rule 41(b)(2) Is Best Read to Impose a "Reason to Believe Standard" ......... 78
b. Law Enforcement Had "Reason to Believe" Defendant and His 202 Cell Phone Were in the District of Columbia ............................................................... 83
c. Good-Faith Exception ........................................................................................... 87
i. Applicable Legal Standard .............................................................................. 87
ii. Law Enforcement Reasonably Relied on the Cell-Site Simulator Warrant in Good Faith ...................................................................................................... 88
3. Franks Hearing Not Warranted .................................................................................. 93

C. Defendant's Motion to Suppress Cell Phones Seized at Arrest Location ......................... 95

1. Applicable Legal Standard .......................................................................................... 98
2. Seizure of Cell Phones Was Constitutional ................................................................ 99

III. CONCLUSION ................................................................................................................... 103

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The defendant, Linwood Douglas Thorne, is charged in six counts with multiple firearms and narcotics offenses, including possession with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin and detectable amounts of fentanyl and marijuana, and conspiracy to distribute those illegal drugs, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1) and 922(g)(1) and 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A)(i), 841(b)(1)(C), 841(b)(1)(D), and 846. See Superseding Indictment (Oct. 23, 2019) at 1-4, ECF No. 28. In advance of the trial scheduled to begin on October 4, 2021, see Min. Order (Oct. 1, 2020), defendant has moved to suppress the fruits of, first, two search warrants, which were issued for his Washington, D.C. residence and Dou Perfect, defendant's Clinton, Maryland auto-repair business, during law enforcement's investigation of his alleged criminal activities and, second, a cell-site simulator warrant, which was obtained to assist a fugitive apprehension investigation leading to his arrest. In these three pending suppression motions, he alleges a myriad of Fourth Amendment violations that, in his view, render the challenged warrants invalid and the evidence obtained pursuant to them inadmissible. See Def.'s Renewed Mot. Suppress Evid. Recovered During Search of Foote St. Address ("Def.'s Foote St. Mot."), ECF No. 120; Def.'s Renewed Mot. Suppress Evid. Recovered During Search of Barbara Lane Location ("Def.'s Barbara Lane Mot."), ECF No. 121; Def.'s Mot. Suppress Fruits Law Enforcement Use of Cell-Site Simulator ("Def.'s Cell-Site Mot."), ECF No. 122. Defendant also challenges the seizure incident to his arrest of three cell phones that were not on his person, and

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seeks to suppress any evidence recovered from the phones as well as the phones themselves. Def.'s Mot. Suppress Cell Phones at Arrest Location ("Def.'s Cell Phones Mot."), ECF No. 123.

A hearing on the pending motions to suppress was held on June 22, 2021. See Min. Entry (June 22, 2021); Rough Tr. of Mots. Hr'g (June 22, 2021) ("Hr'g Tr. (Rough)").1 For the reasons explained below, defendant's motions to suppress the evidence recovered from his Washington, D.C. home and Dou Perfect; the fruits of law enforcement's use of a cell-site simulator to locate and ultimately apprehend him; and the cell phones seized incident to his arrest are denied.2

I. BACKGROUND

Background on the pending charges against defendant, law enforcement's investigation of his alleged narcotics-trafficking activities, and his eventual apprehension are set out below to inform the analysis of defendant's motions to suppress, followed by review of the procedural history of this case to date.

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A. Investigation and Apprehension of Defendant

As set out in a prior decision resolving the parties' motions regarding evidence proffered by the government under Federal Rules of Evidence 404(b) and 609, see United States v. Thorne ("Thorne I"), Crim. A. No. 18-389 (BAH), 2020 WL 122985, at *2-3 (D.D.C. Jan. 10, 2020), and the affidavits submitted in support of law enforcement's applications to search defendant's Washington, D.C. residence and Clinton, Maryland auto-repair business, see Gov't's Omnibus Opp'n Def.'s Second Mots. Suppress Evid. Obtained Pursuant to Search Warrants ("Gov't's Opp'n"), Ex. B, Foote St. Search Warrant ("Foote St. Warrant"), Aff. of Special Agent Richard A. Migliara Supp. Appl. Search Warrant ("Migliara Aff."), ECF No. 124-2; id., Ex. H, Barbara Lane Search Warrant ("Barbara Lane Warrant"), Aff. of Special Agent Kevin T. Smith Supp. Search Warrant ("Smith Aff."), ECF No. 124-8, the events that led to law enforcement's identification of defendant as the supplier of heroin to an individual known as Suspect-1, who made four separate sales of guns and illegal narcotics to an undercover agent ("UC") in August and...

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