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7th Circuit: Recording of drug deal doesn’t taint conviction

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A taped conversation between a suspected heroin dealer and a confidential informant in which a sentence was admitted into evidence was not fruit of the poison tree dooming a conviction that was supported by plenty of other evidence, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

Allen County detectives arranged a criminal informant to make multiple purchases of heroin from Gerald Reynolds. At some point, Reynolds drove the CI’s car to the home of his supplier, John Scott. Unbeknownst to either man, the car had recording equipment that captured a driveway conversation involving drug purchases.

Scott ultimately pleaded guilty to possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute under the Controlled Substances Act, Title 21, U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division, denied his motion to suppress a search warrant of Scott’s home that followed the captured conversation, but Scott’s plea preserved the right to appeal that issue.

The 7th Circuit rejected Scott’s claims in United States of America v. John Scott 12-2962, that the recorded conversation was the primary reason authorities sought a warrant.

“The detective’s affidavit contained many facts other than the recording of Scott’s driveway conversation, and these other facts were sufficient to create probable cause to support a search warrant of Scott’s house,” wrote U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee of the Northern District of Illinois, sitting by designation.   

 “Thus, we need not reach the issue of whether Scott had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his driveway conversation with Reynolds and affirm the district court’s denial of Scott’s motion to suppress,” Lee wrote for the panel.

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