US v. Alfredo Ramirez
UNPUBLISHED PER CURIAM OPINION filed. Originating case number: 5:14-cr-00559-JMC-3 Copies to all parties and the district court/agency. .. [16-4090]
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UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Plaintiff - Appellee,
ALFREDO DE JUSUS RAMIREZ, a/k/a Alfredo Dejesus Ramirez,
Defendant - Appellant.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of
South Carolina, at Orangeburg.
J. Michelle Childs, District
September 29, 2016
October 12, 2016
Before MOTZ, TRAXLER, and AGEE, Circuit Judges.
Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion.
Jeremy A. Thompson, LAW
Columbia, South Carolina,
United States Attorney,
States Attorney, Columbia,
OFFICE OF JEREMY A. THOMPSON, LLC,
Beth Drake, Acting
James Hunter May, Assistant United
South Carolina, for Appellee.
Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.
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In October 2014, a federal grand jury charged Alfredo de
Jusus Ramirez and three codefendants with, in relevant part,
conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute
methamphetamine and 50 grams or more of actual methamphetamine,
in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A), 846 (2012).
Following a 2-day trial at which 13 witnesses testified, the
jury found Ramirez guilty of this offense.
The district court
subsequently sentenced Ramirez to 292 months’ imprisonment, and
Ramirez timely appealed.
The lone issue raised on appeal is Ramirez’s challenge to
suppress evidence from a traffic stop that occurred in Tennessee
in February of 2013.
We conclude that, even assuming that the
motion to suppress should have been granted, the admission of
the challenged evidence was harmless given the strength of the
In February 2013 — 18 months before the events underlying
this trial — Scott Baker, a Deputy Sheriff from the Rutherford
County (Tennessee) Sheriff’s Department, engaged Ramirez in a
traffic stop after observing Ramirez following a tractor trailer
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quantity of methamphetamine seized by Baker following his roadside
authorities following this seizure.
As relevant to our inquiry,
Baker testified at length regarding the stop at the hearing
on the motion to suppress, at which the court also watched the
denied the motion to suppress and further ruled that Baker’s
testimony was admissible.
relying on United States v. Digiovanni, 650 F.3d 498 (4th Cir.
2011), Ramirez complains that the detention lasted longer than
necessary to effectuate the purpose of the stop.
When reviewing a district court’s denial of a motion to
suppress, “we review factual findings for clear error and legal
Green, 599 F.3d 360, 375 (4th Cir. 2010).
The district court’s
refusal to suppress evidence is also subject to harmless error
See United States v. Blauvelt, 638 F.3d 281, 290-91
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(4th Cir. 2011); United States v. Abu Ali, 528 F.3d 210, 231
(4th Cir. 2008).
As such, we need not resolve Ramirez’s arguments regarding
the propriety of the district court’s ruling on the motion to
suppress because, even if we assume that the district court’s
error is harmless.
Our review of the record persuades us that
Baker’s testimony as to the evidence flowing from the February
2013 stop was secondary to the other direct and circumstantial
evidence that the Government presented to establish Ramirez’s
guilt of the underlying charge.
Because the record convinces us
that any “rational fact finder would have found [Ramirez] guilty
absent the error[,]” United States v. Poole, 640 F.3d 114, 120
(4th Cir. 2011) (citing Chapman v. California, 386 U.S. 18, 24
(1967)), we reject Ramirez’s assignment of error.
affirm the criminal judgment.
We dispense with oral argument
because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented
in the materials before this court and argument would not aid
the decisional process.
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