Dickinson police testimony for warrant false
With defense attorneys arguing that the Dickinson Police Department may have obtained a search warrant with false information, defendants in a multi-charge drug case will have to wait to see if Judge Zane Anderson dismisses their case or decides to continue with a jury trial scheduled for Oct 30.
The four men -- Dylan Maki, 20, Victor Ryan, 39, Paul Trawick, 33, and Brandon Thomas, 20 -- were arrested in May in connection with a drug bust at a west Dickinson residence. They were in court in front of Anderson for an arraignment, pre-trial conference and a motion to suppress evidence hearings Tuesday at the Stark County Courthouse.
"Obviously this is a very serious case involving four people," Anderson said Tuesday. "I'm not prepared to make a ruling from the bench today."
The men are charged with two Class AA felonies, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, methamphetamine, and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, synthetic hallucinogens; two Class A felonies, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, marijuana, and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, synthetic hallucinogens; one Class C felony, possession of a controlled substance, cocaine; and one Class A misdemeanor, possession of drug paraphernalia. Each of the four men pleaded not guilty to the six charges.
The defense -- each man hired his own lawyer -- argued that the warrant obtained to raid the house was obtained with false information and it wanted to suppress any evidence obtained with that warrant.
"The basis of all of the information before the court or given to the magistrate is either inaccurate, was not verified or was openly false at this time," said Erica Shively, counsel filling in for Travis Finck, who represents Maki. "So the court should suppress the evidence in this matter."
Dickinson police Lt. Dave Wallace testified Tuesday that the drive-by with an informant never happened and that drugs he had believed to be field tested were not tested until about a month ago.
Stark County State's Attorney Tom Henning argued the warrant would still have been issued based on the testimony of the informant.
"The officers received this information from an arrestee, but nevertheless this arrestee is giving this information in view of his own criminal exposure to the activities which he had been participating in," Henning said.
At a previous hearing, Wallace had testified that a substance found during the raid had been tested -- he thought it had been field tested -- and was proven to be meth. That test did not occur before the testimony, said Michael Hoffman, attorney for Ryan.
"Officer Wallace's review of that product occurred a month ago, not prior to the testimony to the magistrate so there's no basis for Officer Wallace to tell the magistrate that in his opinion that the product was methamphetamine," Hoffman said.
The defense didn't believe there would have been a warrant without the previous testimony.
"There cannot be any good faith once you move all of this bad information. There is no longer any information to support the warrant," Hoffman said.
While the information provided to the magistrate who issued the warrant has since proved to be false, officers did not knowingly lie to obtain the warrant, Henning said.
"Despite the fact that Lt. Wallace indicates that he erred in two areas, the significance of those errors I submit doesn't detract from the information provided to the magistrate judge," Henning said. "The information provided in the center was to the effect that drugs are being trafficked out of this same address -- out of this residence."
Anderson will write his ruling regarding Tuesday's proceedings but did not give a deadline. A jury trial is scheduled for the quartet for Oct. 30, but that could be delayed or canceled depending on Anderson's ruling.
The maximum sentence for a Class AA felony is life without parole; Class A carries a maximum of 20 years' imprisonment, a $20,000 fine or both; a Class C felony carries a maximum of five years' prison, $10,000 fine or both and a Class A misdemeanor carries a maximum of one year's prison, a $3,000 or both.
In other court news:
-- Matthew Gietzen of Dodge, who is charged with one Class A felony, five Class C felonies and two Class A misdemeanors in relation to a May drug arrest, was issued a continuance at a pretrial conference Tuesday. His Oct. 30 jury trial was canceled and rescheduled due to an attorney scheduling conflict, but charges brought by Dunn County State's Attorney Ross Sundeen may be dropped in favor of federal charges from the same incident.