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United States v. Fisher-Bland

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

November 16, 2017




         On February 21, 2017, a grand jury sitting in the Northern District of Georgia returned a multi-count indictment against Talante Fisher-Bland (“Defendant”) and five other individuals for charges relating to the purchase and sale of firearms. [Doc. 1]. Specifically, Defendant was charged with three counts of aiding and abetting another in making material false statements to a federally licensed firearms dealer, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6) and §2, and three counts of aiding and abetting the transfer of firearms to an out-of-state resident, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(5) and §2. [Id.]. Defendant has filed a Motion to Suppress Evidence, in which he seeks to suppress all evidence obtained during a warrant-authorized search of his residence. [Doc. 75]. For the reasons discussed below, I RECOMMEND that the motion be DENIED.

         I. FACTS

         On February 28, 2017, United States Magistrate Judge Alan J. Baverman signed a search warrant for Defendant's residence, 105 Concord Terrace, McDonough, Georgia, 30253 (the “Warrant”). [Doc. 122-1].[1] The application for the Warrant was supported by an Affidavit signed by Special Agent Jonathan P. Gray of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”) (the “Affidavit”). [Doc. 93-1]. The Affidavit states that on August 15, 2016, Brittni Dixon and Martavius Askew purchased multiple firearms from the Liquidation Outlet, a federally licensed firearm dealer in Georgia. [Id. ¶¶ 12-14]. Ms. Dixon purchased thirteen firearms, and Mr. Askew purchased ten. [Id. ¶¶ 12, 14-16, 18, 20]. Several of these weapons were later recovered by police in Rochester, New York, in connection with criminal activity. [Id. ¶¶ 17, 19, 30, 40, 48].

         According to the Affidavit, Special Agent Gray's investigation revealed that Defendant drove both Ms. Dixon and Mr. Askew to the Liquidation Outlet on August 15, 2016 to purchase the guns. [Doc. 93-1 ¶ 22]. Ms. Dixon participated in the gun purchase at the request of Defendant's girlfriend, Artia Woolfork, who had asked Ms. Dixon to help Defendant buy a firearm. [Id. ¶ 21]. Ms. Dixon told Special Agent Gray that on August 15, 2016, Defendant picked her up in a black car, and Martavius Askew was in the passenger seat; Defendant drove them to the Liquidation Outlet. [Id. ¶¶ 22-23]. Upon arriving at the Liquidation Outlet parking lot, they met five individuals who were introduced to Ms. Dixon as “people from New York.” [Id. ¶ 23]. At this point, Ms. Dixon was told that Defendant wanted her to purchase several firearms for the people from New York. [Id. ¶ 24]. Ms. Dixon told Special Agent Gray that the New York people selected which firearms that Ms. Dixon was to buy, and one of the New York people paid the store clerk for the guns. [Id. ¶ 25]. According to Ms. Dixon, she never touched the guns or the money during the transaction. [Id.].

         On October 3, 2016, Special Agent Gray interviewed Defendant's girlfriend, Artia Woolfork, who told him that the firearms purchased on August 15, 2016 were for the New York people, who planned to take the guns to New York. [Doc. 93-1 ¶¶ 32-34]. She also stated that Defendant and Mr. Askew were each being paid to purchase the guns. [Id. ¶ 34]. Ms. Woolfork also told Special Agent Gray that she thought Defendant had previously sold four of his personal firearms to the people from New York sometime between March and August of 2016. [Id.].

         On October 17, 2016 Special Agent Gray interviewed Martavius Askew about his involvement in the August 15th firearms purchases. [Doc. 93-1 ¶ 42]. During this interview, Mr. Askew stated that he had filled out the paperwork for the August 15th firearms purchase at the direction of Defendant. [Id. ¶¶ 43-44]. According to Mr. Askew, after the purchase was made, he gave the box of firearms to the New York people. [Id. ¶ 46]. Mr. Askew denied receiving any compensation for his participation in the purchase. [Id. ¶ 44].

         In September 2016, Special Agent Gray reviewed a Facebook page depicting Defendant in various poses with firearms and confirmed that Defendant had purchased two guns early in 2014, a SCCY Industries pistol and a Glock Pistol. [Doc. 93-1 ¶¶ 31, 37]. He also confirmed that Defendant was not licensed to import, manufacture, deal, or collect firearms or ammunition. [Id. ¶ 47]. The following month, Special Agent Gray interviewed Defendant at his residence (the target location of the Warrant) and spoke with Defendant in the foyer of his house. [Id. ¶ 35]. When asked if he had purchased any firearms recently, Defendant stated that he owned a couple of Glock pistols, and then stated that he wanted an attorney. [Id. ¶ 36].

         Special Agent Gray's Affidavit closed by stating that Defendant had been indicted the week before (on February 21, 2017) with “multiple violations of federal firearms laws, ” and that indictment was under seal, meaning that Defendant was not aware of it. [Doc. 93-1 ¶ 49]. According to Special Agent Gray, “[w]hile under felony indictment, [Defendant] is prohibited from possessing firearms.”[2][Id. ¶ 50].

         The application for the search warrant was presented to Judge Baverman seven days after the indictment was returned, on February 28, 2017, and Judge Baverman signed it that day. The Warrant authorized law enforcement to seize the following items:

a. Talente Ravon FISHER-BLAND, B/M, DOB 09/08/1992, 5'10, 137 pounds.
b. Any and all firearms and ammunition.
c. Any and all ledgers, paperwork, receipts, manuals, or documents in any and all media formats regarding the theft, purchase, sale, or transfer of firearms and ammunition.
d. Any and all containers, boxes, or packaging bearing firearms or ammunition information.
e. Any and all applications or membership cards associated with firearms related clubs or shooting ranges.
f. Any and all photographs in any and all media formats, targets, or spent cartridge casings consistent with shooting ...

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