APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH
OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 17-4778, DIVISION
"K" HONORABLE ELLEN SHIRER KOVACH, JUDGE PRESIDING
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, STATE OF LOUISIANA Paul D.
Connick, Jr. Terry M. Boudreaux Anne M. Wallis Jennifer C.
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, BENNIE R. SPRIGGS Bruce G.
composed of Judges Fredericka Homberg Wicker, Stephen J.
Windhorst, and John J. Molaison, Jr.
J. MOLAISON, JR. JUDGE
Bennie Spriggs, appeals the denial of his motion to suppress
evidence following his guilty plea to drug offenses,
possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and obstruction
of justice with a reservation of his right to appeal the
trial court's ruling on the suppression motion, pursuant
to State v. Crosby, 338 So.2d 584 (La. 1976).
Defendant contends the evidence was obtained unlawfully
because the warrantless entry into and initial search of his
residence was made by parole officers other than the officer
assigned to him, contrary to law, and their visit, ostensibly
to determine whether he was in compliance with the conditions
of his parole, was a subterfuge for a criminal investigation.
affirm the trial court's denial of defendant's motion
to suppress, affirm his convictions and sentences, and remand
the matter to the trial court to correct a discrepancy
between the court minutes and the transcript as to the
payment of restitution, which we noted in our review of the
record for errors patent.
time of the parole officers' entry into defendant's
apartment in June 2017, the law did not require that visits
to a parolee's residence, or searches of the residence,
be conducted by the parole officer assigned to the parolee.
R.S. 15:574.4.2(A)(2)(i); State v. Warren, 17-1169
(La.App. 3 Cir. 2/28/18), 239 So.3d 960, 971, citing
State v. Sinegal, 17-527 (La.App. 3 Cir. 12/13/17),
2017 WL 6350261 at *8, writ denied, 18-451 (La.
1/8/19), 259 So.3d 1026.
record supports the trial court's finding that the visit
to defendant's residence was a legitimate compliance
check and was not a subterfuge for a criminal investigation.
The evidence seized pursuant to the plain view exception to
the warrant requirement, and on the basis of a search warrant
issued thereafter, was lawfully obtained.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
search of defendant's apartment occurred on June 28,
2017, and resulted in defendant being charged by bill of
information with possession with intent to distribute heroin
(count one), possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
(count two), possession with intent to distribute marijuana
(count three), possession of Buprenorphine (Suboxone) (count
four), possession of Tramadol (count five), and obstruction
of justice (count six), in violation of La. R.S. 40:966(A),
14:95.1, 40:966(A), 40:968(C), 40:969(C) and 14:130.1,
hearing on the motion to suppress was held in July 2018.
After the motion was denied, defendant withdrew his not
guilty pleas and entered a Crosby plea of guilty as
charged on all counts, reserving his right to appeal the
denial of his motion to suppress.
trial court sentenced defendant to imprisonment at hard labor
for fifteen years each on counts one, two and three and
imprisonment at hard labor for five years each on counts
four, five and six, with the sentences on all counts to run
concurrently with each other and with any other sentence he
is currently serving.
was on parole at the time of these offenses, having been
convicted of possession with intent to distribute marijuana,
possession with intent to distribute cocaine and attempted
possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in 2004. His
parole supervision was transferred from East Baton Rouge
Parish to Jefferson Parish in February 2017, a few months
before the events in question. His assigned parole officer in
Jefferson Parish, Agent Steven Becnel, had been to his
apartment two or three times, during routine visits to
monitor his compliance with the conditions of his parole, but
Agent Becnel did not participate in the June 28 visit because
he was scheduled for office duty that day. He testified that
it was normal for other agents to assist an agent who is on
are required by law to refrain from engaging in criminal
conduct. La. R.S. 15:574.4.2(A)(1). As a condition of parole,
they agree to submit to unannounced visits from their parole
officer at their residence or place of employment and to
searches of their person, property, residence or vehicle when
reasonable suspicion exists that they have engaged in
criminal activity while on parole.  § 574.4.2(A)(2)(i);
State v. Bolden, 09-33 (La.App. 5 Cir. 5/12/09), 13
So.3d 1168, 1172, writ denied, 09-1317 (La. 2/5/10),
27 So.3d 297; State v. Wesley, 28, 941 (La.App. 2
Cir. 12/13/96), 685 So.2d 1169, 1174 writ denied,
97-0279 (La. 10/10/97), 703 So.2d 603.
OF PROOF AND STANDARD OF REVIEW
hearing on a motion to suppress, the defendant has the burden
of proving that evidence obtained with a warrant should be
suppressed, and the State has the burden of proving the
admissibility of evidence seized without a warrant. La.
C.Cr.P. art. 703(D); State v. Parnell, 07-37
(La.App. 5 Cir. 5/15/07), 960 So.2d 1091, 1097, writ
denied, 07-1417 (La. 1/7/08), 973 So.2d 733.
trial court's denial of a motion to suppress is afforded
great weight, and it will not be set aside unless the
preponderance of the evidence clearly favors suppression.
State v. Lewis, 12-902 (La.App. 5 Cir. 6/27/13), 121
So.3d 128, 134, writ denied, 13-1926 (La. 4/17/14),
138 So.3d 618.
AT SUPPRESSION HEARING
28, 2017, three agents with the Louisiana Department of
Probation and Parole and a narcotics detective with the
Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office went to defendant's
apartment in Harvey, Louisiana. This occurred within a short
time after one of the Probation and Parole officers, Agent
Douglas Black, was contacted by a sergeant with the New
Orleans Police Department's Fourth District Task Force
and advised that the Task Force had been conducting
surveillance of a residence in Algiers and had observed
defendant engaging in what appeared to be illegal narcotics
activity there, including selling narcotics in hand-to-hand
transactions. Algiers is part of Agent Black's area of
supervision, and he testified that he is the person who is
generally contacted when the police learn that someone who
may be engaged in criminal conduct in Algiers is on probation
Black and other Probation and Parole agents attempted to
contact defendant at the residence in Algiers, but he did not
appear there. His address of record with the Probation and
Parole office was in Harvey, ...