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United States of America v. Barrett Byron Staton

June 15, 2012

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
BARRETT BYRON STATON



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Surrick, J.

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court are Defendant Barrett Byron Staton's Motion for Leave to File Motion to Suppress Evidence (ECF No. 118) and Motion to Suppress Evidence (ECF No. 119). For the following reasons, the Motion to Suppress Evidence is denied.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Facts*fn1

1. Case Background

The factual background of this case has been set forth in our prior Memoranda. (See, e.g., ECF Nos. 116, 120.) Those Memoranda describe in some detail the fraudulent scheme in which the Government alleges that Defendant was involved.

In March 2004, after the owner of a printing business located in Virginia lodged a formal complaint to the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), a federal investigation into Defendant and co-defendants Matthew Staton and William Haken, Jr. commenced. The investigation lasted six years and covered multiple states. (Gov't's Resp. 2, ECF No. 123.)

The Government alleges that Defendant, with co-defendants Matthew Staton and Haken (collectively, "Defendants"), would use various office copier brokerage businesses ("Businesses") to entice small businesses and non-profit organizations ("Customers") into executing new office copier leases by making attractive promises. Defendants did not fulfill these promises. They were supposed to use the payments received from the financing companies as a result of the new leases for the Customers' benefit (e.g., to pay off their office copier leases). However, the payments were instead used for personal gain. When Defendants became overwhelmed with complaints from the Customers, they would shut down the Business, only to reopen it under a different company name, and at times, under a nominee owner. Defendant Barrett Byron Staton also used the Businesses to obtain financing for personal purchases that included luxury vehicles. On April 11, 2012, co-defendant Haken entered a plea of guilty. (See ECF No. 83 (Minute Entry).)

Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement agents conducted searches related to Defendant Barrett Byron Staton, in 2004 and in 2008. (Gov't's Resp. 2.) The 2008 searches, and the underlying search warrants in support thereof, are the subject of the instant Motions.

2. September 25, 2008 Search Warrants

On September 25, 2008, in Case No. 08-11242-M-1, Magistrate Judge M. Faith Angell authorized a search of "the residence located at 532 Oak Lane, Lititz, Pennsylvania" ("Residence"), pursuant to a warrant. (Def.'s Suppress. Mot. ¶ 1 & Ex. A (copy of search warrant for Residence, application for search warrant, and affidavit providing probable cause for search warrant ("Aff.")), ECF No. 119.)*fn2 Also on September 25, 2008, in Case No. 08-1242-M- 2, Magistrate Judge Angell authorized a search of "a separate, stand alone, garage located on the property of 532 Oak Lane, Lititz, Pennsylvania" ("Stand-Alone Garage"), pursuant to a warrant (Def.'s Suppress. Mot. ¶ 2 & Ex. B (copy of search warrant for, and application for search warrant for, Stand-Alone Garage)); and in Case No. 08-1242-M-3, Magistrate Judge Angell authorized a search of "a storage facility located at Elm Self Storage, 884 Speedwell Forge Road, Lititz, Pennsylvania 17543, designated as A-5" ("Storage Facility"), pursuant to a warrant (Def.'s Suppress. Mot. ¶ 3 & Ex. C (copy of search warrant for, and application providing probable cause for search warrant for, Storage Facility)).*fn3 The affidavits providing probable cause for the search warrants for the Stand-Alone Garage and Storage Facility are identical to the affidavit for the search warrant for the Residence. This affidavit was sworn to by Stephen M. Rich, Jr., Special Agent of the FBI, on September 25, 2008. A copy of the affidavit (hereinafter, "Affidavit") is included in Exhibit A of Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence. (Def.'s Suppress. Mot. ¶¶ 2-3 & Aff.)

The Affidavit states the facts that Special Agent Rich believed gave rise to probable cause. From approximately January 2002 to the time of Special Agent Rich's signing the Affidavit (September 2008), "Defendant owned, or operated through nominees, various office copier broker businesses," all of which Special Agent Rich identified by name. (See Aff. ¶ 4.) In March 2004, Customers of one of Defendant's Businesses complained about fraudulent activity, which prompted the Pennsylvania state police to investigate their complaints. (Id. at ¶ 5.) After the police discovered evidence of fraudulent interstate wire communications, the investigation was turned over to the FBI. (Id.) After conducting multiple interviews and reviewing numerous bank and lease records, the FBI learned that Defendant, using the Businesses, "developed and evolved" the scheme to defraud. The Affidavit describes this scheme in detail. (See id. at ¶¶ 6-17.) In the Affidavit, Special Agent Rich stated that from his training and experience as a special agent, he learned that businesses generally maintain records. (Id. at ¶ 30.) He then provided a "general list of records maintained by businesses," which includes: bank records, income records, expense records, asset acquisition and disposal records, financial statements and inventory records. (Id.) Special Agent Rich also provided specific examples of these categories of records. (Id.) Magistrate Judge Angell authorized the three search warrants, based on probable cause as set forth in the Affidavit. (Gov't's Resp. 3; Def.'s Suppress. Mot. ¶¶ 1-3 & Exs. A-C.)

3. September 26, 2008 Searches

On September 26, 2008, at approximately 7:00 a.m., the 532 Oak Lane property was searched pursuant to the warrants for the Residence and Stand-Alone Garage. (Def.'s Suppress. Mot. ¶¶ 4-5.) The Storage Facility was also searched. (Id. at ¶ 4.) As a result of these searches, five computers were seized, as well as compact discs ("CDs") and other personal records and property belonging to Defendant. (Id. at ¶13.)

II. MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE

A. The Parties' Contentions

Defendant seeks the Court's permission to file his Motion to Suppress Evidence, since the deadline for filing pre-trial motions has passed. Defendant claims that because he resides in Florida, his ability to meet face-to-face with his counsel, who is located in Pennsylvania, to discuss this case and his defense has been "additional[ly] burden[ed]." (Def.'s Leave Mot. ¶ 10, ECF No. 118.)*fn4 Defendant asserts that there has been "a lapse of Defendant's understanding as to when he could file certain motions relative to his situation." (Def.'s Leave Mot. ¶ 12.) He claims that he "mistakenly believed" that he would be allowed to file a motion to suppress after the pre-trial motion deadline. (Id. at ¶ 14.)*fn5 Defendant filed the Motion for Leave "so that all aspects of the case can be litigated pretrial as opposed to some time in the future upon review of the case by others." (Def.'s Leave Mot. ¶ 18.) He claims that the Government will not be unduly burdened in responding to the Motion for Leave. (Id. at ¶ 19.)

The Government responds that Defendant failed to file a motion to suppress evidence by the many deadlines set by the Court, and that Defendant has failed to articulate "good cause" for why he failed to file a timely motion. Accordingly, the Government argues, Defendant has "waived the issue." (Gov't's Resp. 1.)

B. Legal Standard

Rule 12(b)(3)(C) states that a defendant must submit a motion to suppress evidence before trial. See Fed. R. Crim. P. 12(b)(3)(C). Rule 12(c) permits courts to set deadlines for the parties to make pre-trial motions. See Fed. R. Crim. P. 12(c). "A party waives any Rule 12(b)(3) defense, objection, or request not raised by the deadline the court sets under Rule 12(c) or by any extension the court provides. For good cause, the court may grant relief from the waiver." Fed. R. Crim. P. 12(e).

C. Analysis

The parties do not dispute that Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence was filed on June 6, 2012, more than one month after the Court-ordered May 4, 2012 pre-trial motion deadline. The Court did not extend this deadline. Thus, Defendant has waived his ...


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