305 371-8101

Search Warrant for Drugs Led to Seizure of Evidence of Tax Violations

U.S. v.  ASAD,  739 F. Supp. 2d 1127 (2010)

Based on information from a reliable informant, who observed cannabis sales inside and outside certain business premises, a  warrant was issued authorizing a search of the business' premises for evidence of unlawful possession of cannabis. In addition to seizing drugs, currency,  and weapons, officers executing the warrant seized documents located in an office area at the back of the store.

The Defendants were charged  with various offenses including: conspiracy to defraud the United States and violate the tax laws, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371; tax evasion, in violation of 26 U.S.C. 7201; signing false corporation income tax returns, in violation of 26 U.S.C. 7206(1); mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1341; witness tampering, in violation of 18 U.S.C.1512(b);  making false statements to obtain health care benefits, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1035(a); and making false statements to federal agents, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001(a).

Defendants moved to suppress certain evidence seized during the execution of a search warrant. The government  contested the motion.

The court found that one defendant failed to establish that he had a legitimate expectation of privacy to the office area because the seized documents were in an unlocked desk in an area without a door and through which all employees had to walk to reach the rest room.

The court further found that the search warrant was valid under the Fourth Amendment because the informant's information was adequate to establish probable cause of drug trafficking. Seizure of the documents did not exceed the scope of the warrant, which described the items to be seized with the required particularity and did not allow unfettered discretion. In any event, the good faith exception applied because the officers executing the warrant acted in good faith reliance on the warrant. The court denied the motions to suppress.

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