This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Demarcus Darell Brown,
Ramsey County District Court
File No. K0993571
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County Attorney, Mark Nathan Lystig, Assistant Ramsey County Attorney, Darla Jo Boggs, Certified Student Attorney, 50 W. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 315, St. Paul, MN 55102-1657 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Leslie Joan Rosenberg, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue SE, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Stoneburner, Judge, and Poritsky, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge
Demarcus Brown appeals from conviction and sentence for a first-degree controlled substance offense, arguing that the trial court erred when (1) it admitted evidence obtained pursuant to a warrant, where the warrant was based on the statements of an informant who had no record of credibility; and (2) it refused to depart downward from the presumptive sentence. Because the police corroborated details given by the informant, and because a trial court is not required to depart from the presumptive sentence, we affirm.
Appellant Demarcus Brown was found guilty of first-degree violation of the controlled substance for the sale of cocaine in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 152.01, subd. 15(a), 152.021, subd. 1(1), 3(a) (2000), based on evidence obtained in a warrant search of Brown’s apartment. Brown argues that trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the evidence because the search warrant application failed to demonstrate the reliability and credibility of the informant.
“[W]hen reviewing a pretrial order suppressing evidence where the facts are not in dispute and the trial court's decision is a question of law, the reviewing court may independently review the facts and determine, as a matter of law, whether the evidence need be suppressed.” State v. Othoudt, 482 N.W.2d 218, 221 (Minn. 1992) (citations omitted). Minnesota has adopted a “totality of the circumstances” approach to judging an informant’s reliability, which recognizes the relevance of an informant’s basis of knowledge and veracity, and the reliability of the report. State v. Wiley, 366 N.W.2d 265, 268 (Minn. 1985); see also Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 238 103 S. Ct. 2317, 2332 (1983) (citations omitted) (establishing the totality of the circumstances test).
The search warrant application does not state that the informant has a track record of providing accurate information; therefore, Brown argues that the informant’s statements were not of sufficient credibility to provide adequate probable cause for the issuance the warrant. The deficiency in an informant’s veracity or credibility may be compensated for by a strong showing of his basis of knowledge. Gates, 462 U.S. at 233, 103 S. Ct. at 2329. In addition, a lack of a strong showing of veracity may be corrected by police corroboration of the details of the informant’s information. Id. at 244-45, 103 S. Ct. at 2335.
Here, the reliability of the informant’s statements are established because he personally observed the acts, and his credibility is bolstered by police corroboration of the details of his information. On November 3, 2000, the informant met with Brown, whom he knew only as “Man,” purchased some cocaine, left the apartment complex, returned, and asked Brown if he could use his phone to make a call. A brief dispute between the two men took place and Brown called 911 to report that a Hispanic male with a gun (the informant) had threatened him.
The police located the informant walking along County Road B2 and arrested him. The informant, upon arrest for the possession of cocaine, stated that he had just purchased the cocaine from a black male. In addition, the informant gave a general description of the location of the vendor’s apartment, the security code necessary to access that apartment, which was not generally available to the public, and directions to the apartment once inside the building.
The 911 call by Brown corroborates and adds significantly to the apparent reliability of the informant’s statements. The phone call ties the two men together and further supports the informant’s statement that they had recently been in contact with one another. See Wiley, 366 N.W.2d at 269 (corroboration of even minor details will lend credence to an informant’s information); Cf. State v. Albrecht, 465 N.W.2d 107, 109 (Minn. App. 1991) (address of house and ownership of pickup truck were easily obtained facts which by themselves were inadequate to support a finding of probable cause). In addition, the veracity of the informant’s statements regarding Brown’s general physical description and the security code necessary to access the apartment was bolstered when the police corroborated the information by contacting Brown’s apartment manager. See State v. Lozar, 458 N.W.2d 434, 440 (Minn. App. 1990), review denied (Minn. Sept. 28, 1990) (corroboration of innocent details-- physical location and type of building used for alleged marijuana growing operation-- lent credence to an informant’s tip). Thus, the totality of the circumstances dictates that the informant’s statements, when corroborated, were sufficiently reliable and credible to provide probable cause for the issuance of the search warrant. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion to suppress.
Downward Dispositional Departure.
Brown argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion for a downward dispositional departure from the sentencing guidelines. The decision to depart from sentencing guidelines rests within the trial court’s discretion and will not be reversed absent a clear abuse of that discretion. State v. Givens, 544 N.W.2d 774, 776 (Minn. 1996). The trial court must order the presumptive sentence provided in the sentencing guidelines unless the case involves “substantial and compelling circumstances” to warrant a downward departure. State v. Kindem, 313 N.W.2d 6, 7 (Minn. 1981) (citation omitted).
Brown offered the following reasons as support for granting the motion: (1) it was his first conviction; (2) when caught, he confessed; (3) he was employed full-time and considered to be a good employee; (4) he had a baby to care for; (5) he was no longer in contact with his drug connections and did not intend to sell drugs again; and (6) he was remorseful. While it is honorable that Brown is employed, employment is not a sufficient reason to depart from sentencing guidelines. See Minn. Sent. Guidelines cmt. II.D.101. Further, Brown’s amenability to probation, which was noted by the trial court, does not require a dispositional departure. State v. Kinsky, 348 N.W.2d 319, 326 (Minn. 1984).
The trial court’s reasons for declining to depart dispositionally, including Brown’s initial denial of his actions and his lack of cooperation in other drug investigations, are well supported by the record. Furthermore, the trial court was within its discretion in denying the durational departure on the basis that appellant had been selling and using drugs for sometime and “knew what he was doing.” For these reasons, a trial court is not required to depart from the presumptive guidelines, we affirm.
* Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.