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United States v. Johnson

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

August 11, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Ronald Johnson, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued May 16, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 11 CR 290 - Joan Humphrey Lefkow, Judge.

          Before Bauer, Flaum, and Kanne, Circuit Judges.

          Bauer, Circuit Judge.

         Defendant Ronald Johnson entered a conditional guilty plea to one count of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), reserving the right to appeal the denials of his motions to suppress the evidence found in his condominium. Johnson now challenges those denials. We affirm.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Search Warrant Affidavit

         On April 12, 2011, Agent Paul Matuszczak of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, applied for a search warrant for Johnson's condominium located at 728 W. Jackson Blvd., Unit #310, in Chicago, Illinois (the "Jackson residence" or "condo"). The search warrant affidavit, which also incorporated by reference an affidavit submitted in support of the search of informant Lor en Coleman's residence, included the following information.

         On March 30, 2011, a grand jury returned an indictment charging Coleman with two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, 21 U.S.C. § 922(g), and two counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). On that same day, the district court issued a warrant for Coleman's arrest.

         On April 12, 2011, ATF agents executed the warrant at Coleman's residence, located in Chicago, Illinois. During a protective sweep, the agents observed a tannish substance on a bedroom dresser that appeared to be heroin. The agents asked for permission to search the apartment, but Coleman refused. After reading Coleman his Miranda rights, the agents asked about the substance; Coleman responded that it was heroin for his personal use, that he used heroin the previous night, and that he expected to suffer from withdrawal within two hours.

         After the agents escorted Coleman out of the apartment and placed him in a law enforcement vehicle, they interviewed his wife, Charisse Coleman, at the residence. According to Charisse, Coleman kept a gun in the bedroom. She said that the last time she saw Coleman use the gun was on December 31, 2010, when she observed him shoot a round out of the residence's window. According to Charisse, Johnson and Coleman had been selling heroin for the past 20 years. She told agents that Johnson was the leader of a crew of five to six other heroin dealers, who were all members of the Gangster Disciples. She said that, over the past year, Coleman would acquire heroin from Johnson and resell it. She stated that, up until a few months prior, Johnson and Coleman would bag heroin at her residence and that she had occasionally passed through the room where they were completing this task. She recalled seeing Johnson and Coleman in her residence with heroin, guns, and money in October or November 2010. She said that she overheard several phone conversations between Coleman and Johnson in 2011 that involved code words for heroin deals. She stated that a few months prior Coleman told her that he and Johnson began bagging the heroin at Johnson's new residence located in Greektown, a neighborhood in Chicago; Agent Matuszczak testified that the condo is directly across the highway from the Chicago neighborhood known as "Greektown." Charisse ultimately consented to the search of the residence.

         The agents then re-approached Coleman and told him they would transport him to the hospital before he got sick. Coleman then said, unprompted, "That shit up there ain't [Charisse's], let's work out a deal." Agents responded that they could not make him a deal. The agents read Coleman his Miranda rights again and provided him a waiver form, which he signed. Coleman then told the agents that he had two guns and 100 grams of heroin inside the residence. The agents again asked Coleman for consent to search; he agreed. Coleman was then transported to the hospital.

         Despite receiving consent from both Coleman and Charisse, agents obtained and executed a search warrant for Coleman's residence where they found a variety of drug paraphernalia, two guns, and approximately 168 grams of heroin.

         At some point, Coleman was again advised of and had waived his Miranda rights before being interviewed by agents. During the interview, Coleman stated that he bought 150-200 grams of heroin per week from Johnson and that Johnson provided most of the heroin he sold. He purchased drugs at Johnson's condo, which he told the agents was unit #310 at the Jackson residence. He would pay Johnson $13, 000 for 200 grams of heroin, but, frequently, would pay Johnson a portion of the $13, 000 up front and pay the remaining balance after he sold the drugs. He stated that he bought 200 grams of heroin from Johnson at his condo on April 10, 2011, for which he paid him $6, 500 and promised to pay the remaining $6, 500 after he ...


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