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United States v. Bradley

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

May 13, 2019

United States of America Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Ramelus D. Bradley Defendant-Appellant

          Submitted: February 14, 2019

          Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri - Jefferson City

          Before SMITH, Chief Judge, BENTON and STRAS, Circuit Judges.

          BENTON, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         A jury convicted Ramelus Dejuan Bradley of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base, in violation of 28 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(C), 841(b)(1)(B), and 851; and being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 §§ U.S.C. 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). He appeals, arguing the district court[1] erred by denying his motions to suppress; for a Franks hearing, disclosure, and production; and for acquittal. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, this court affirms.

         I.

         Detective Brandon Weber applied for a warrant to put a GPS tracker on Bradley's truck. The supporting affidavit detailed a drug investigation, which included a controlled drug buy:

Within the past four days, at my direction and while under my direct surveillance, [Reliable Confidential Informant] #1 was provided money to purchase cocaine from Bradley in Boone County, Missouri. I watched RCI #1 and Bradley meet at an undisclosed [location] in Boone County. Bradley arrived at the meeting location driving a black, Ram, 4-door pickup bearing Missouri Registration 4MV269. After the transaction RCI #1 gave me cocaine they stated had been sold to them by Bradley. RCI #1 positively identified Bradley from pictures that I provided. The cocaine field-tested positive.

         Three other tipsters-two reliable cooperating citizens and a Crimestoppers caller-connected Bradley to drug dealing, two of whom told police he kept drugs in his truck. Weber swore that, within the past 24 hours, he saw another "short-term transaction" involving Bradley that he believed was drug-related based on his training and experience. The affidavit noted Bradley had prior convictions for drug trafficking, distribution, and felony possession. A state judge issued the GPS warrant.

         Based on information from the GPS tracker and physical surveillance, police obtained search warrants for Bradley's truck and a residence in Boone County. When police entered the residence, Bradley was in the living room. Officers recovered four firearms. One was atop a table next to Bradley, one under the table, one atop a television stand in the living room, and one in an upstairs bedroom. They also recovered over $12, 000 cash from a pair of men's shorts in the living room. In a Mirandized interview, Bradley accurately described the firearms' locations and said they belonged to Tiffany Smith, his girlfriend and the tenant there. The truck was parked in front of the residence. In its console, police recovered around 151 grams of cocaine, 28 grams of cocaine base, and a digital scale. He was indicted for possession with intent to distribute cocaine, 28 grams or more of cocaine base, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

         Bradley moved to suppress "all physical evidence allegedly seized" and "any statements attributed to him." He challenged the GPS warrant's probable cause. After a suppression hearing, a magistrate judge recommended denying the motion, reasoning that the controlled buy provided probable cause, the other information in the affidavit supported it, and, even if probable cause were lacking, the good-faith exception applied. United States v. Bradley, 2017 WL 2579169 (W.D. Mo. May 30, 2017). Adopting the report and recommendation, the district court denied the motion to suppress. United States v. Bradley, 2017 WL 2579049 (W.D. Mo. June 14, 2017).

         Bradley then moved for a Franks hearing on the warrants and requested disclosure of the confidential informant's and tipsters' identities and any benefits given to them, and production of evidence about the controlled buy. A magistrate judge recommended denying the motion, reasoning that Bradley failed to make "a substantial preliminary showing" that Weber made any false or reckless statements, as required under Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154, 155 (1978), and failed to show that the confidential informant's or tipsters' testimony would be material to his case, as required under United States v. Harrington, 951 F.2d 876, 877 (8th Cir. 1991). United States v. Bradley, 2017 WL 4533452 (W.D. Mo. Sept. 22, 2017). Adopting the report and recommendation, the district court denied a Franks hearing, disclosure, and production. United States v. Bradley, 2017 WL 4533447 (W.D. Mo. Oct. 10, 2017).

         At trial, the Government sought to introduce audio recordings of calls Bradley made in county jail after his arrest. Bradley objected to statements like "he admits that he would be good for a dope case, if anything." The district court overruled his objection. The court later denied a motion for acquittal based on the sufficiency of the evidence. Deliberating for about a half hour, the jury convicted him on all three counts. Bradley appeals, arguing the district court erred by denying ...


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