Federal Judge Tosses Evidence in Drug Case Because of Illegal GPS
Some guys get all the breaks or at least one big one.
Robert Dale Lee, 49, got busted in September 2011 with a 150 lb carload of marijuana en route from Chicago to Kentucky on I-75. But that evidence won’t be admissible.
That’s because Federal Judge Amul R. Thapar ruled that a GPS device had been placed on his car without a warrant, when a warrant should have been obtained. The ruling was in line with one by the Supreme Court in January 2012 that placing a GPS on a vehicle was in violation of 4th amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.
Lee remains in custody and still faces trial. The feds are trying to figure if they should appeal the ruling that could seriously damage their case.
Lee was on the feds’ radar for drug trafficking when DEA agent Brian Metzger secretly placed a GPS device on Lee’s truck. Says the Trib, because of the GPS, Metzger knew Lee travelled to Chicago and alerted troopers to keep an eye out for the truck saying, “it probably contained marijuana” but that the trooper “would have to obtain his own PC, probable cause, for a traffic stop,” Thapar wrote.
Trooper Matt Hutti got that call, and pulled Lee over for driving without a seat belt. Lee consented to a search, and when Hutti, another trooper and dog found the stash, Lee confessed in what Thapur called a “direct result of the traffic stop and search.”
Thapar ruled the stash was inadmissible in court based on Metzger’s use of the GPS.
“In this case, the DEA agents had their fishing poles out to catch Lee,” the U.S. District Judge wrote. “Admittedly, the agents did not intend to break the law. But, they installed a GPS device on Lee’s car without a warrant in the hope that something might turn up.”
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Posted: 5/24/12 at 10:13 AM under News Story.
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