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United States v. De Jusus Ramirez

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Orangeburg Division

July 30, 2015

United States of America,
v.
Alfredo De Jusus Ramirez.

ORDER AND OPINION

J. MICHELLE CHILDS, District Judge.

This matter is currently before the court on Defendant Alfredo De Jusus Ramirez's ("Defendant") Motion in Limine to Exclude Evidence Not Related to the Conspiracy Pursuant to Rule 404(b), Fed.R.Evid. (ECF No. 153) and Defendant's Motion to Suppress (ECF Nos. 178, 179), seeking to suppress all evidence seized from a February 2013 traffic stop, as well as all statements made to authorities following the stop.

For the reasons set forth herein, the court thereby DENIES Defendant's Motion in Limine to Exclude Evidence Not Related to the Conspiracy Pursuant to Rule 404(b), Fed.R.Evid. (ECF No. 153) and DENIES Defendant's Motion to Suppress (ECF No. 178).

I. RELEVANT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On October 7, 2014, a grand jury handed down a Superseding Indictment charging four defendants with four counts. (ECF No. 56.) Defendant is charged only with Count I: Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substance, alleging that beginning in or around 2010, Defendants conspired to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine and 50 grams or more of actual methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. ยงยง 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A). (Id. at 1-2.)

On February 24, 2015, Defendants Douglas Charles Harry, Charles Allen Wallace, and Tiffany Lynn Walden pled guilty to the charges against them (ECF Nos. 138, 139, 140, 141), leaving Count I against Defendant Ramirez as the only pending charge in this matter.

At issue in the pending motions is a traffic stop by Officer Scott Baker that took place on February 22, 2013, in Rutherford County, Tennessee. (ECF Nos. 155 at 1; 179 at 1.) Defendant turned over $20, 000 and a small amount of methamphetamine to Officer Baker during the stop. (ECF Nos. 155 at 2; 179 at 1.) Defendant told Officer Baker he delivered a package from Atlanta to Kentucky[1], and was given the baggie of methamphetamine and $20, 000 in return for delivering the package. (ECF No. 155 at 1-2.) Defendant told Officer Baker he had made three trips, including the trip made at the time of the stop, to deliver drugs. (ECF Nos. 155 at 2; 179 at 1.) Defendant also provided a phone number to the DEA which had been used by alleged coconspirators to call for methamphetamine pickups. (ECF No. 155 at 2.) The entire stop was captured by video, but some sections of the video do not contain audio. (ECF No. 179 at 1, n.1.)

The matter is currently before the court on Defendant's Motion in Limine to Exclude Evidence Not Related to the Conspiracy Pursuant to Rule 404(b), Fed. R. Evid., filed March 20, 2015. (ECF No. 153.) Defendant moves the court to exclude evidence of "any alleged bad act committed by the Defendant that did not form part of the conspiracy charged in this matter" under Rules 403 and 404(b). (Id. at 1.) Also on March 20, 2015, but after Defendant's Motion was filed, the Government filed a Notification of Intent to Use Evidence, stating it intends to offer evidence regarding the events surrounding the February 2013 traffic stop. (ECF No. 155.)

Also at issue is Defendant's Motion to Suppress, filed May 14, 2015. (ECF Nos. 178, 179.) Defendant moves to suppress all evidence seized from the February 2013 traffic stop, as well as all statements made to authorities following the stop. (ECF No. 178 at 1.)

The court held a hearing on July 28, 2015, to hear arguments from the parties on these motions. (ECF No. 185.) In addition to the parties' arguments, the Government offered the testimony of Officer Baker, the traffic citation issued to Defendant, the video and transcript of the February 2013 traffic stop, a property seizure record, and a photograph of the currency seized from Defendant. (ECF No. 186.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD AND ANALYSIS

A. Motion in Limine to Exclude Evidence Not Related to the Conspiracy

Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) states, "(1) Evidence of a crime, wrong, or other act is not admissible to prove a person's character in order to show that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character.... (2) This evidence may be admissible for another purpose, such as proving motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or lack of accident."

"[E]vidence of acts committed pursuant to a conspiracy and offered to prove the defendant's membership or participation in the conspiracy are not extrinsic evidence, i.e., evidence of other acts, for purposes of Rule 404(b). Acts committed in furtherance of the charged conspiracy are themselves part of the act charged. Thus, evidence of such acts constitutes intrinsic evidence-that is, direct evidence of the charged conspiracy itself." United States v. Melvin, 2007 WL 2046735, at *13 (4th Cir. July 13, 2007) (internal quotes and citation omitted).

Rule 404(b) does not apply to intrinsic acts. United States v. Chin, 83 F.3d 83, 88 (4th Cir. 1996). "Other criminal acts are intrinsic when they are inextricably intertwined or both acts are part of a single criminal episode or the other acts were necessary ...


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