This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Michael Bude Fondurulia,
Filed December 24, 2002
Mille Lacs County District Court
File No. K101572
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Thomas R. Ragatz, Assistant Attorney General, Suite 500, 525 Park Street, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Janelle Kendall, Mille Lacs County Attorney, Mille Lacs County Courthouse, 525 Second Street Southeast, Milaca, MN 56353 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Rochelle R. Winn, Assistant Public Defender, Suite 425, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Minge, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
On appeal from conviction of fifth-degree controlled-substance crime, Michael Fondurulia challenges the district court’s denial of his pretrial motion to suppress evidence obtained in a search of his car. Because the consensual search stemmed from a stop based on a reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal activity, we affirm.
F A C T S
Following a contested omnibus hearing, the district court denied Michael Fondurulia’s motion to suppress evidence obtained from a search of his car. The evidence included a metal roach clip; a portable digital scale; a tubular plastic receptacle containing a mirror, a syringe, and needle; a baggie containing methamphetamine, tinfoil, and Q-tips; and three clear plastic baggies that tested positive for methamphetamine residue. Fondurulia and the state negotiated an agreement to submit the fifth-degree controlled-substance charge to the court on stipulated evidence, and the state dismissed the companion drug-related charges and a charge of driving after revocation. The district court, relying on the submitted police report, Fondurulia’s post-arrest statement, and police records, found Fondurulia guilty of fifth-degree controlled-substance crime.
The testimony at the contested omnibus hearing established that the arresting police officer had been informed by a fellow officer in late April 2001 that Fondurulia continued to drive his green Saturn, with the license-plate number DAU 330, despite having a revoked license. The fellow officer also said that Fondurulia drove his vehicle to and from work at a local resort and that Fondurulia typically left work around 9:30 p.m. At 9:44 p.m. on May 6, 2001, the arresting officer observed a car matching the description and license number of Fondurulia’s Saturn turn from a road near Fondurulia’s place of employment onto a highway. The officer followed the Saturn, ran the vehicle’s license-plate number, confirmed that Fondurulia was the registered owner of the Saturn, and also confirmed that Fondurulia’s license was still revoked. The officer observed that a male was driving the Saturn. Based on this information, he stopped the car.
The driver identified himself as Michael Fondurulia, and the officer asked him to step out of the car. In a pat-down search, the officer found a pack of Zigzag rolling papers. Fondurulia consented to a search of his car that yielded drug paraphernalia and controlled substances. Fondurulia appeals the district court’s denial of his motion to suppress the evidence.
D E C I S I O N
In an appeal from a district court’s determination of the legality of a limited investigatory stop, we review questions of reasonable suspicion de novo. State v. Britton, 604 N.W.2d 84, 87 (Minn. 2000). Within the ambit of the Fourth Amendment, a police officer may conduct a limited stop to investigate suspected criminal activity if the officer can “point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant the intrusion.” Britton, 604 N.W.2d at 87 (quoting Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 21, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 1880 (1968)). A stop is lawful if the police officer has a “particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular persons stopped of criminal activity.” Berge v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 374 N.W.2d 730, 732 (Minn. 1985) (quoting United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 417-18, 101 S. Ct. 690, 694-95 (1981)). Evidence obtained through an illegal seizure is inadmissible to support a conviction. State v. Harris, 590 N.W.2d 90, 97 (Minn. 1999). To determine whether the police had a valid basis for the stop, we consider the totality of the circumstances. Cortez, 449 U.S. at 418, 101 S. Ct. at 695.
Fondurulia contends that the stop lacked a valid basis because the police officer’s information and observations did not conclusively establish that the driver was male or that Fondurulia was the driver. Therefore, Fondurulia argues, the subsequent search of the car was unlawful, and the product of that search should have been suppressed.
It is undisputed that the officer who made the stop knew that Fondurulia was the registered owner of a green Saturn with the license-plate number DAU 330, that Fondurulia’s license was revoked, and that the location and time of the driving corresponded to Fondurulia’s work schedule. The officer also testified that he was able to view the driver when the Saturn turned onto the road approximately twenty feet in front of his squad car. The officer saw that the driver was wearing a baseball cap and did not have long hair. The officer surmised that the driver was male.
The exacting standard of identification that Fondurulia urges us to apply is not supported by the caselaw. Indeed, the case Fondurulia relies on in advancing his argument, State v. Pike, 551 N.W.2d 919 (Minn. 1996), supports the stop of Fondurulia’s car. Pike holds that knowledge that the owner of a vehicle has a revoked license provides reasonable articulable suspicion justifying a stop. Pike, 551 N.W.2d at 922. Although Pike also holds that an officer does not have a reasonable, articulable suspicion if he or she is aware of facts that make the assumption unreasonable, nothing in the officer’s observations of Fondurulia indicated that any person other than Fondurulia was driving the Saturn. See Pike, 551 N.W.2d at 922 (upholding stop because officer “had no reason to believe that the vehicle’s owner * * * was not driving the vehicle”).
The officer acted on his confirmed knowledge that Fondurulia’s license was revoked, that Fondurulia was the registered owner of a green Saturn with license-plate number DAU 330, and that a fellow officer had reported that Fondurulia was illegally driving his car to and from work and normally left work at 9:30 p.m. This knowledge provided a reasonable, articulable basis for the officer to stop Fondurulia’s car when he observed it driven by a male near Fondurulia’s workplace at 9:45 p.m. The district court properly denied Fondurulia’s motion to suppress the evidence as the fruit of an illegal stop.