The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stephen M. Orlofsky, United States District Judge
This case calls to mind a well-known adage: "We are known by the
company we keep." A corollary to this adage might be that we should know
the company we keep, because we are sometimes bound by the actions of
those with whom we associate. Here, the Defendant, Micah Clark*fn1
("Clark"), moves to suppress evidence that the Federal Bureau of
("FBI") seized from two Philadelphia hotel rooms, Extended
Stay America, Room 418, located at 9000 Tinicum Boulevard, and Embassy
Suites, Room 213, located at 9000 Bartram Avenue. These rooms were
registered in Clark's name. The question presented is whether the Fourth
Amendment's exclusionary rule applies to the fruits of these searches.
The answer to this question hinges on whether the "company" Clark kept,
the parties who executed the consent forms to search these rooms, had the
authority to do so.
For the reasons that follow, I find that the searches of Extended Stay
America, Room 418, and Embassy Suites, Room 213, did not violate the
Fourth Amendment. Therefore, Clark's motion to suppress the evidence
seized from these rooms shall be denied.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY*fn2
Armed Robbery of Commerce Bank
Clark was indicted for the June 11, 2000 armed robbery of $308,815.32
from Commerce Bank, N.A., in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, in violation of
18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) and 2. At the time of the bank robbery, a witness
in a townhouse across the street from the bank observed someone walking
and struggling with a large duffle bag get into a car, described as a
dark four door sedan with the license plate number CEL-3603. See Tr. of
12/6/02 Hr'g ("Tr."), 13:21 to 14:2, Test. of Special Agent Mark Gillen.
The Cherry Hill police and the FBI issued a press release seeking
public assistance and information about the robbery. See Aff. of Mark
Gillen, 6/12/00, ¶ 7 (attached to Aff. of Howard B. Shapiro*fn3,
6/20/02, Ex. B). Based on an anonymous caller's tip, the investigators
learned that some of the parties allegedly involved in the robbery were
staying at two hotels in Philadelphia, the Extended Stay Hotel and the
Studio Plus Hotel. See Tr. 12:21-25. In addition to a gold Cadillac
Escalade identified in connection with the robbery, the anonymous caller
also identified a brown Cadillac with Pennsylvania license plate number
CDL-3603, the same number previously identified by the witness near the
scene of the robbery. See Tr. 12:25 to 13:11.
B. Search of Studio Plus Hotel Room 330
The FBI located the vehicle with the CDL-3603 tag, a brown Lincoln Town
Car, parked in front of the Studio Plus Hotel. Tr. 14:5-7. Studio Plus
management informed the FBI that two black males associated with the
vehicle, Micah Clark and Mark Henderson, had checked out of Room 330.
Tr. 14:13-17. They were accompanied by a white female with bleached-blond
hair. Tr. 31:17-19. The trio left the hotel in two other automobiles, a
gold-colored Cadillac Escalade and a burgundy Ford Expedition. Tr.
21:1-4. A search of Studio Plus Room 330 yielded a money wrapper stamped
"Commerce Bank" in the wastepaper basket. Tr. 14:24-25.
Search of Extended Stay America Room 418
The FBI had been maintaining surveillance over the brown Lincoln Town
Car with the CDL-3603 tag in the Studio Plus parking lot. See Tr.
15:21-23. At approximately 11:30 p.m., a male later identified as
Mohammed Jah approached and attempted to enter the vehicle. Tr.
15:24-25. When stopped and questioned by the FBI, Jah explained to them
that he had obtained permission to use the vehicle from its owner,
"Dink." Tr. 16:1-3. Jah volunteered that he was staying in Room 418 of
Extended Stay America with Micah Clark and "Dink," and that all three men
had also been in Room 330 of the Studio Plus Hotel. Tr. 16:6-11;
27:11-21; 30:23-25. Jah also confirmed that the rooms were registered in
Clark's name. Tr. 33:18-24.
Jah said that had been "in and out" of Room 418 throughout the day, and
that he had just woken up within the past hour or two "to party with some
girl" at the Studio Plus Hotel. Tr. 16:12-17; 34:10-25. Jah further
explained that he had a key to Extended Stay America Room 418, where he
had been staying for several days, but left the key behind when he went
to Studio Plus to "party." Tr. 16:18-24.
After questioning Jah, the FBI presented Jah with a Consent to Search
form. Tr. 17:20-21; 18:12-21. This form, executed by Jah, provides:
I have been asked by Special Agents of the Federal
Bureau of Investigation to permit a complete search
of: Room 418 at the Extended Stay America Hotel ...