United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Lynn Winmill Chief Judge.
Court has before it defendant Thomas's motion to
suppress. Thomas seeks to suppress a firearm and drugs -
seized during a search of the clubhouse of a motorcycle gang
- that form the basis for a two-count indictment against him.
The Court held a two-day evidentiary hearing on March 23 and
24, 2017, and allowed further briefing that was received on
April 24, 2017. The motion is now fully submitted. For the
reasons explained below, the Court finds that the search of
the clubhouse violated Thomas's Fourth Amendment
August 28, 2014, the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole
(“Commission”) granted Scott Thomas parole on
sentences imposed on drug trafficking and firearms charges.
As a parolee, Thomas was under the supervision of the Board
of Correction (“Board”), and assigned to a Parole
Officer (“PO”), Clayton Duin.
knew that Thomas was a member of a motorcycle gang known as
the “Devils Diciples” (“DD”),
that this gang was being investigated for criminal activity
by the Treasure Valley Metro Violent Crime Task Force
(“Task Force”). Although PO Duin was not a member
of the Task Force, another Parole Officer - Daniel Geisel -
was a Task Force member, and so PO Duin transferred
supervision of Thomas to PO Geisel.
Task Force member, PO Geisel was part of a team including the
FBI, the Caldwell Police Department, and selected Parole
Officers. Their mission was to investigate criminal
enterprises responsible for drug trafficking and gang
activity. They were actively investigating DD for conducting
the Commission placed Thomas on parole, they imposed on him a
set of conditions, including a waiver that affected his
Fourth Amendment rights. More specifically, he agreed to
submit to a search of his “residence” at any time
and place. See Commission Conditions (Dkt. No. 19-2)
the Commission granted parole and passed the supervision of
Thomas to the Board, Thomas signed a separate set of
conditions drafted by the Board that, among other things,
expanded the scope of the Fourth Amendment waiver imposed by
the Commission. Under the Board's conditions, Thomas
agreed not only to submit to a search of his residence but
also to a search of any “structures . . . for which the
defendant is the controlling authority.” See
Agreement of Supervision (Dkt. No. 23-1).
January 12, 2016, PO Geisel received notice that Thomas had
been stopped while riding his motorcycle and wearing three
items (a vest, hat, and bandana) that signified DD
membership. Officer Bendewald had pulled Thomas over, and
called the Board to see if they wanted to take any action
against Thomas for wearing DD material. He recalls he talked
to a Parole Officer (but not which one) who told him that he
should confiscate the hat and bandana, but not the vest. The
Parole Officer also told Officer Bendewald that Thomas should
not be charged with a parole violation for wearing these
learning about this incident, PO Geisel decided to conduct a
search of Thomas's residence on January 14, 2016. At that
time, Thomas was living on Colorado Avenue in Caldwell. In
searching that residence, PO Geisel was accompanied by Task
Force Officer Anthony Ostrander and FBI Special Agent Scott
Smith, also a member of the Task Force. As PO Geisel searched
the house, the Task Force officers questioned Thomas, and
obtained from him a set of Bylaws for the DD. PO Geisel's
notes of his search results state that Thomas “admitted
to being an active member of [DD] and is currently
president.” See Offender History (Dkt. No.
19-3) at p. 54. PO Geisel did not violate Thomas's
parole for that admission.
Geisel testified that during that visit on January 14, 2016,
to Thomas's residence on Colorado Ave., he saw parked out
front a gold-colored Ford Expedition, a camper trailer on the
back of a pickup, and a large white trailer. These items all
belonged to Thomas. In addition, he saw Thomas's dog.
April 7, 2016, Thomas told PO Geisel that he needed to move
because the house on Colorado Ave. was being sold. See
Offender History, supra. Later that same day, Thomas
reported to PO Geisel that he was now residing at 16965 Ten
Lane in Nampa. Id. Although PO Geisel's notes
state that he “verified” that address,
id., he testified that only meant that he entered it
into the system, not that he had “verified” that
Thomas was in fact residing there. When he did visit the Ten
Lane address to determine if Thomas was living there, he did
not see Thomas.
Geisel's first attempt was on April 21, 2016, and he was
accompanied by Task Force officers. When they knocked on the
door, there was no answer. PO Geisel did not see any of the
property - the gold Ford Expedition, camper, and white
trailer - that had been at Thomas's residence on Colorado
Ave. PO Geisel and the Task Force members then left the Ten
Lane address and eventually found Thomas and other
“gang members” at another residence. Id.
Geisel testified that he made a second attempt to locate
Thomas at the Ten Lane address on or about April 28, 2016,
but again did not find him there, and did not see any of the
items such as the gold Expedition, camper, and white trailer.
Both attempts were unannounced and prior to curfew so there
was no requirement that Thomas be at home. PO Geisel did not
attempt to verify that Thomas was living there by contacting
Thomas's wife (although he had her email address and
Geisel asked Task Force member Anthony Ostrander if he had
any information on where Thomas was living. Ostrander knew
from listening to intercepted jail phone calls between Thomas
and his nephew Derrick Reilly that Thomas was spending a
significant amount of time at the DD clubhouse performing
repairs and framing walls, and he passed this information
along to PO Geisel. He did not explain to PO Geisel his
source for this tip.
Search of the DDMC Clubhouse
clubhouse was located at 204 West Main Street in Caldwell,
Idaho. As of May 13, 2016, the main floor was leased by Jacob
Quick, a DD member. The basement was leased by an owner of a
hot tub business (“Nate”).
13, 2016, Thomas and two fellow motorcyclists - Quick and
Brandon Rambow - made a brief stop at the clubhouse to pick
up an extra helmet. The group was confronted by Nate, who
accused them of damaging his property. Nate's wife called
911 and falsely reported that a “motorcycle gang”
was destroying her property and “murdering” her
husband. This call understandably caused several officers to
officers took statements from Nate and the owner of the
building, and then took statements from Thomas and his
friends. Everyone cooperated with the officers. Officer
Gallup concluded that no criminal conduct had occurred. The
time was 12:02 p.m.
Officer Gallup concluded his investigation of the 911 call,
Officer Randy Deleon asked Thomas if he was on felony
supervision. When Thomas confirmed his status, law
enforcement searched him and frisked Quick and Rambow,
justifying the searches based on Thomas's status as a
parolee and a concern for weapons, respectively. The Officers
found no evidence of criminal conduct or parole violations.
The time was now 12:03 p.m.
Joey Hoadley asked Thomas whether it was a violation of his
parole to hang out with the DD. Thomas indicated that it was
not, and that his parole officer and the FBI knew he was
active with the DD. Lt. Hoadley asked if PO Geisel knew that
Thomas was “hanging out” at the clubhouse, to
which Thomas responded that they were not doing anything
wrong and had just come by to pick up a helmet.
Hoadley then attempted to open the clubhouse door, but it was
locked and so he asked Quick to open the door to ensure
nobody was inside and there were no parole violations.
responded that there was nobody inside, that there were no
violations, and that he must have locked himself out. Lt.
Hoadley became agitated, turned his attention back to Thomas
and exclaimed, “See how this starts to look when
you're on felony probation.” Lt. Hoadley's then
asked “How is your UA going to look today?”
Thomas responded that it would be fine. Lt. Hoadley then
departed to contact the Parole Department. The time was 12:05
Hoadley contacted PO Matt Thomas who acts as the liaison with
the Metro Task Force. Lt. Hoadley informed him that he had
contacted Scott Thomas while responding to a 911 call of
“murder in progress” and that Thomas was wearing
a DD vest. PO ...