http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/ ... press.html
Judge tosses drug evidence, says officer's deception went too far
By BILL TORPY
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 05/11/07
Saying that Atlanta narcotics officers went too far in using deception to make a bust, a Fulton County judge suppressed evidence Thursday in a court case, heavily damaging a substantial case as it was set to go to trial.
Superior Court Judge Marvin Arrington Sr. ruled that an undercover officer pretending to be an acquaintance of an accused dealer had no right to enter his Midtown home. The officer pretended to be someone who had partied with the accused dealer, Hugh Sidney Goodman, and was let into the home by someone else in the residence.
The officer "was not an invited guest of the defendant and had no right to cross the threshold of the defendant's residence, because he gained entry by deceiving" the person who let him in, Arrington wrote.
Prosecutor Kimberly Hayes had argued that undercover officers pretending to be someone other than a cop is what narcotics officers do. Representatives of the Fulton district attorney's office could not be reached Thursday afternoon.
On Thursday, Goodman's attorney, Rand Csehy, called the drug evidence "poisonous fruit" of an illegal search. He is demanding the state dismiss charges but has been told prosecutors will appeal the ruling.
Testimony in a hearing last week showed that officers received information that Goodman was dealing drugs in Atlanta hotels, but they were rebuffed in an effort to buy drugs from him on a separate occasion. Csehy said Goodman's codefendant who let the officer into the home did not have the authority to let him in, so it did not matter that the officer saw drugs inside.
Goodman and two others inside were busted with a variety of drugs â€" suspected cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and $365,000 cash.
Csehy is a former Fulton drug prosecutor who represented one of the Atlanta narcotics officers who pleaded guilty last month in the killing of a 92-year-old woman in a drug raid gone wrong. The officers in that case admitted lying to get a warrant and said their colleagues have repeatedly worked outside the letter of the law to make cases.
Csehy said the officers in the Goodman case were not lying or consciously trying to cut corners.
"They get frustrated that they can't make a case," he said. "It's the mad rush to get the job done. They honestly believe they were right."
Csehy will also seek to get Goodman's money returned to him.