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United States v. Gaffney

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division

February 27, 2014



LINDA R. READE, Chief District Judge.


The matter before the court is Defendant Geoffrey Scott Gaffney's Objections ("Objections") (docket no. 42) to United States Magistrate Judge Jon S. Scoles's Report and Recommendation (docket no. 34), which recommends that the court deny Defendant's "Motion to Suppress" ("Motion") (docket no. 21).


On November 5, 2013, a grand jury returned an Indictment (docket no. 2) that charged Defendant with possessing with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A). On December 19, 2013, Defendant filed the Motion. On December 30, 2013, the government filed a Resistance (docket no. 30). On January 3, 2014, Judge Scoles held a hearing on the Motion. See January 3, 2014 Minute Entry (docket no. 32). Defendant appeared in court with his attorney, Jill Johnston. Assistant United States Attorney Dan Chatham and Special Assistant United States Attorney Ravi Narayan represented the government. On January 8, 2014, Judge Scoles issued his Report and Recommendation, which recommends that the court deny the Motion. On January 29, 2014, Defendant filed his Objections. The Objections and Report and Recommendation are fully submitted and ready for decision.


When a party files a timely objection to a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, a "judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also Fed. R. Crim. P. 59(b)(3) ("The district judge must consider de novo any objection to the magistrate judge's recommendation."); United States v. Lothridge, 324 F.3d 599, 600 (8th Cir. 2003) (noting that a district judge must "undertake[] a de novo review of the disputed portions of a magistrate judge's report and recommendations"). "A judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also Fed. R. Crim. P. 59(b)(3) ("The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommendation, receive further evidence, or resubmit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions."). It is reversible error for a district court to fail to engage in a de novo review of a magistrate judge's report when such review is required. Lothridge, 324 F.3d at 600. Accordingly, the court reviews the disputed portions of the Report and Recommendation de novo.


On August 21, 2013, at approximately 12:24 a.m., Officer Albert Bovy of the Waterloo, Iowa Police Department was stopped at a stop light facing west on Franklin Street in Waterloo when he observed a car approaching him from the west. The speed limit on Franklin Street is 35 miles per hour, and Officer Bovy thought that the vehicle was traveling between 50 and 55 miles per hour. After the vehicle passed, Officer Bovy made a u-turn to follow the vehicle. As the vehicle was turning right at the next intersection onto Rhey Street, Officer Bovy turned on his emergency lights. Defendant was the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle, and he stopped the vehicle on Rhey Street.

Officer Bovy approached the vehicle and, at Officer Bovy's request, Defendant produced his driver's license and insurance card. Officer Bovy returned to his vehicle and received information from dispatch that Defendant had a valid driver's license, there were no outstanding warrants for Defendant's arrest and that Defendant had a previous narcotics history. Officer Bovy was later notified over the radio by Officer Gann that he had information that Defendant was still involved in illegal narcotics activity. During the course of the stop, Officer Bovy asked Defendant where he was going. Officer Bovy testified that Defendant gave inconsistent answers-he first stated that he was going to a friend's house but later stated that he was going to a convenience store to purchase sandwich meat. Officer Bovy asked Defendant if he had weapons in the car, and Defendant replied that he did not. Officer Bovy then asked Defendant whether he would give consent to search the vehicle, and Defendant denied consent.

Officer Bovy, who has been a canine officer since 2007, then instructed Defendant to step out of the car so that Officer Bovy's canine could conduct a sniff of the vehicle.[2] Once Defendant was outside the vehicle, Officer Bovy patted down Defendant for weapons. Officer Bovy felt a long, round object with a bulb at the end. Officer Bovy testified that the "only object I have ever felt on a person that feels like that is a meth or crack pipe." Hearing on Motion to Suppress Transcript (docket no. 37) at 24. Officer Bovy asked Defendant what was in his pocket, to which Defendant replied that there was nothing in his pocket. Officer Bovy stated to Defendant that whatever was in Defendant's pocket felt exactly like a glass meth pipe, to which Defendant replied that it was not his. Office Bovy proceeded to handcuff Defendant and removed a meth pipe from Defendant's pocket.

Because Defendant had been arrested and the police intended to tow Defendant's vehicle, another officer performed an inventory search of the vehicle. The officer discovered approximately four pounds of ice methamphetamine in the trunk of the vehicle.


Defendant objects to certain facts set forth in the Report and Recommendation, including "that Defendant said [Officer Bovy] thought [Defendant] was only going in the 40s'; that Defendant gave inconsistent accounts of where he was going prior to being stopped; and that Defendant made any statements at all regarding the meth pipe or that he had started using methamphetamine again." Objections at 1 (citations omitted) (quoting Report and Recommendation at 3). Defendant also objects to Judge Scoles's conclusions "that probable cause existed for the stopping of Defendant's vehicle[;]... that the ...

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