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Feds deal with pair of suppression motions

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Lawyers try to suppress evidence against suspects

By Joe Gorman


Federal prosecutors this week in the U.S. Northern District Court of Ohio are dealing with motions to suppress evidence in two drug cases.

The lawyers for Edward DuBose Jr., 37, of Boardman, are trying to suppress any evidence against their client collected during electronic surveillance, including anything on wiretapped phone conversations.

DuBose Jr. is one of 11 people, including his father, Edward DuBose Sr., 58, of Youngstown, accused of selling cocaine in and around Youngstown between May and November 2017.

Rhonda L. Lotnik, the attorney for DuBose Jr., contends that the wiretaps and any electronic surveillance are illegal and any evidence against her client should be thrown out because the application for a warrant for electronic surveillance did not contain “a particular description of the type of communications sought to be intercepted.”

Lotnik also wrote that the wiretaps were not disclosed to a judge immediately after they were collected, which she said is a violation of federal law.

In the indictment accompanying his case, DuBose Jr. is quoted discussing drug transactions 21 different times with five defendants and one person described as “Drug Customer 1.” Included among the defendants is his father, whom he addressed as “Pops.”

Prosecutors did respond to a motion to suppress evidence by attorneys for Devontae Wesson, 25, of Ferndale Avenue Southwest, Warren, who was indicted on drug charges in May. Federal prosecutors also are looking to seize $48,000 cash and two handguns.

Michael J. Goldberg, an attorney for Wesson, is trying to suppress a Nov. 29, 2018, search of his client’s home that was done without a warrant. Police were surveilling Wesson as part of an investigation and pulled him over for a traffic violation. According to Goldberg’s motion, police found no drugs in the car but found cash and saw two people they thought were going to Wesson’s house. So they searched the house without a warrant because they were afraid that Wesson would be able to contact the people. Goldberg, however, said police never gave any evidence of that.

In his response, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason M. Katz wrote that police were drawing up a search warrant application at the time of the stop and that officers saw people approaching the house, so they decided to enter and secure it because they thought Wesson was able to use his phone to contact others to take the evidence out of the house. The officers cleared the house of other suspects and did not touch or seize any evidence, but they did see some evidence in plain sight, Katz wrote.

Katz wrote that the evidence should be allowed because the search warrant was already being written and there is a likelihood the evidence would have been found when the warrant was served. The application for the warrant was approved a couple of hours after Wesson was stopped. Police also had a reasonable belief someone else was in the house removing evidence, Katz wrote.