Applying the Fourth Amendment to Technology Today

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that police must obtain a warrant from a judge before placing a GPS tracking device on a vehicle.

The ruling came in the case of Washington, D.C., nightclub owner Antoine Jones, sentenced to life in prison on drug trafficking charges. While investigating Jones, the FBI placed a GPS tracking device on his car. Every time the Jeep moved it was tracked by satellite, with the information sent to the FBI. The tracking led to the seizure of 97 kilograms of cocaine and $850,000 in cash.

Following the ruling, the Supreme Court reversed the conviction because law enforcement authorities had failed to get a valid warrant before installing the tracking device.

This Supreme Court ruling is an example of how the court system is trying to determine how the fourth amendment is applied in this new digital era in which we live today.  The fourth amendment reads, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”  Therefore, the amendment guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned.

There are other high-tech devices that also need to be addressed by the court regarding privacy and the limits on law enforcement.  For example, Smartphones can disclose an individual’s location unless the internal locator devices are turned off.  Furthermore, email, social networking sites, and other forms of high-tech surveillance is in question regarding whether or not prosecutors can use them in a case without obtaining a warrant first.

A major consideration in determining if a warrant is required to obtain a certain type of technology is a person’s expectation of privacy while engaging in the surveyed actions.  For example, regarding social networking sites such as Facebook, if one chooses to make his account private and only viewable by “friends,” should he expect his account to be kept private?  Or could law enforcement bypass the privacy options and still obtain information from a suspect’s page?  Furthermore, while using a smartphone, should one freely use the phone with an expectation that the conversation and the user’s location are private?

In Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967), the Supreme Court ruled that a party is considered to have been searched, for Fourth Amendment purposes, if that party had a “reasonable expectation of privacy”.  Katz used a public pay phone booth to transmit illegal gambling wagers across state lines, while being recorded by the FBI.  Katz argued that law enforcement violated his Fourth Amendment Rights.  The court ruled in Katz’s favor and stated, “regardless of the location, a conversation is protected from unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment if it is made with a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

In Jones’ case mentioned above, the Supreme Court ruled that a search for Fourth Amendment purposes also occurs when law enforcement trespasses on a person’s property, even if that person had no reasonable expectation of privacy.

If you have been charged with a crime in Louisiana, contact Baton Rouge Criminal Attorney Carl Barkemeyer to discuss your case.

Source: www.npr.org, “High Court: Warrant Needed For GPS Tracking Device,” January 23, 2012.

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Alabama Fan Arrested for Sexual Battery of LSU Fan

Brian Downing was booked in New Orleans, Louisiana on counts of sexual battery and obscenity for allegedly putting his genitals on the face of an LSU fan who appeared to be drunk and “practically unconscious,” police said.

The arrest stems from a video shot hours after the BCS Championship game, where a man wearing University of Alabama clothing unzips his pants and exposes his genitals, then repeatedly shoves them on the LSU fan’s neck.

New Orleans police had asked for the public’s assistance in identifying the man shown in the video the day before they arrested Downing.

The arrest is the result of Sheriff Heath Taylor, of Alabama, recognizing his second cousin, Downing, as the man identified as the alleged offender in some pictures posted on the sports website Deadspin.

New Orleans police said sex crimes detectives met Downing before taking him to Central Lockup.

Taylor said Downing had hired a Louisiana criminal defense lawyer.

Under state law, “sexual battery” is defined as any touching of the “genitals of the offender by the victim,” when the victim has not given consent. Furthermore, the statute specifies that the victim cannot give consent if they are “incapable,” and “the offender knew or should have known of the victim’s incapacity.”

If convicted, the offender faces a maximum imprisonment sentence of 10 years.

If you are facing criminal charges in Louisiana, you must seek representation immediately from one of the best criminal lawyers in Louisiana.  Contact Baton Rouge Criminal Attorney Carl Barkemeyer for a free consultation.

 

Source: The Advocate, “N.O. police arrest Bama fan,” January 20, 2012.

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Scientist Sentenced for Selling Trade Secrets of Louisiana Chemical Plant

Retired Dow Chemical Company research scientist Wen Chyu Liu of Baton Rouge was sentenced last week to five years in federal prison for his conviction on charges that he stole trade secrets from Dow’s Plaquemine plant and sold them to companies in China for $600,000.

Liu denied, as he did at trial in February, that he committed that crime.

Two other former employees at Dow’s Plaquemine, Louisiana plant pleaded guilty to related charges in the case and testified against Liu. One was sentenced to one year of probation and the other to two years of probation.

Dow estimates that Liu caused the firm to lose more than $250 million.

If you are facing federal charges, you need a lawyer with experience handling white-collar crimes in Louisiana.  Contact Baton Rouge Criminal Attorney Carl Barkemeyer.

 

Source: The Advocate, “Ex-Dow worker Liu gets 5 years,” January 13, 2012.

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Healthcare Fraud Prosecuted Vigorously in Louisiana

The owner of four Louisiana medical equipment companies, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to pay and receive healthcare kickbacks. An employee also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to pay and receive healthcare kickbacks.

The owner of the four companies hired people to recruit potential patients who obtained prescriptions for medically unnecessary medical equipment. These “patient recruiters” obtained the patients information and then asked the primary care physicians for prescriptions for orthotic equipment, power wheelchairs, wheelchair accessories and other medical equipment. The recruiters then provided the prescriptions to Jones, who billed them to Medicare and paid the recruiters illegal kickbacks for each prescription obtained.

The maximum prison sentence for each count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud is 10 years. The maximum prison sentence for each count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to pay and receive health care kickbacks is five years.

In another case last week, three men from Prairieville, Louisiana, Mandeville, Louisiana, and Texas received sentences in Baton Rouge that ranged from probation to five years in prison for their conviction on charges that they participated in frauds that cost Medicare more than $2.5 million.

All of the convictions were due to investigations by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force in Baton Rouge.

A pre-sentence investigation revealed that the nation’s taxpayer-funded insurer for the elderly and disabled lost more than $2.5 million that was paid for unneeded power wheelchairs.

If you are facing healthcare fraud charges or other federal charges, contact Baton Rouge Criminal Attorney Carl Barkemeyer to discuss your case.

 

Source: LegalNewsline, The Advocate, “3 sentenced on Medicare fraud charges,” January 13, 2012.

 

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Mall of Louisiana Shooting Suspects Arrested and Charged

Sheriff’s deputies arrested the wrong person in the Saturday shooting and injuring of two innocent bystanders near the Mall of Louisiana.

Meco Damon Green was released from East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Tuesday less than 48 hours after being booked on four counts of attempted first-degree murder.

Deputies arrested Green late Sunday after witnesses identified him in a photo lineup as the person who fired a handgun into a crowd Saturday near the Mall of Louisiana.

Following the arrest, deputies received a Crime Stoppers tip that implicated Johnny Williams as the shooter, who admitted to firing the weapon.

Michael Leneal Burrell was also arrested for allegedly supplying Johnny Williams with the gun he is accused of using in Saturday’s shooting, an affidavit of probable cause says.

Burrell is also accused of being involved in the argument that led to the shooting and for giving Williams a ride away from an area outside the mall where the incident occurred.

Williams was booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on four counts of attempted first-degree murder. Burrell was booked on the same counts.

This story is a good example of how misidentification occurs in a criminal case.   People can be wrongfully accused based on what other people think they saw at the scene of a crime.  In fact, confidence in one’s perception does not always equate accuracy.  Furthermore, people typically perceive what they expect to perceive.  Therefore, a witness’s testimony is not always the truth.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact Baton Rouge Criminal Lawyer Carl Barkemeyer.

 

Source: The Advocate, “One man released in mall shooting, another arrested,” January 10, 2012.

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Medicare Fraud Carries Serious Sentence

Christopher Iruke was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for helping engineer a $14.2 million Medicare fraud.

Iruke was convicted in August — along with his wife, and one of their employees — of conspiracy and health care fraud.

Iruke also has to pay back $6.7 million with his conspirators and serve three years of “supervised release” once he gets out of prison.

He and his wife were charged in October 2009 with bilking Medicare by fraudulently billing the government for electric wheelchairs and other expensive medical equipment.

At last year’s trial, jurors heard evidence that Iruke bought fraudulent prescriptions and documents that the three used to bill Medicare for equipment that were either “medically unnecessary or never provided,” the Justice Department said. For instance, they billed Medicare about $6,000 for a power wheelchair that actually costs closer to $900.

During the trial, witnesses said that “they and others paid cash kickbacks to street-level marketers to offer Medicare beneficiaries free (devices and equipment) in return for the beneficiaries’ Medicare card numbers and personal information.” This data was used to make fraudulent prescriptions and medical documents, which they then sold to Iruke and others.

In total, the federal government said that the conspirators submitted $14.2 million in fraudulent Medicare claims and got about $6.7 million in reimbursements.

If you are facing federal criminal charges, you need an attorney with experience in handling federal cases.  If you have been charged with healthcare fraud, or other federal crimes, or white-collar crimes in Louisiana contact Baton Rouge Criminal Defense Attorney Carl Barkemeyer.

 

Source: www.cnn.com, “L.A. pastor gets 15 years in a $14.2 million Medicare fraud scheme,” January 9, 2012.

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Loyola University Student Arrested and Indicted for Threatening Emails

A Loyola University student has been indicted on a charge that she sent threatening emails to the campus police department.

Evelyn Hubbard, of New Orleans, was arrested by FBI agents and indicted on one count of threatening interstate communications.  If convicted, Hubbard faces up to five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.

Hubbard allegedly threatened to blow up a building where she was scheduled to take a test on the morning she sent one email. Another email she allegedly sent threatened five unnamed professors and called for the building to be evacuated.

After receiving the threatening emails, the Loyola University Police Department contacted the FBI. The FBI traced the first email to a Loyola University computer and the second came from a cell phone. The FBI determined that Hubbard had access to the computer that morning and that the second e-mail was sent from a cell phone linked to Hubbard.

Prosecutors said Hubbard told FBI agents she sent the emails as a joke.

If you have been accused of computer crimes in Louisiana, also known as Internet crimes or cyber crimes, contact Baton Rouge Criminal Defense Attorney Carl Barkemeyer. Attorney Barkemeyer’s Baton Rouge law office handles state and federal charges including, Internet fraud, identity theft, and computer hacking.

 

Source: www.fbi.gov, The Associated Press,  “Loyola student indicted on threats charge,” January 8, 2012.

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Houston Man Transports Woman for Prostitution

Jerald Bland of Houston, Texas, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Houston to transportation of a woman for commercial sex.  Bland had used a hotel business center to post online ads offering a woman for prostitution.  Bland faces up to 10 years in prison and remains in custody.

During 2010, Bland transported a woman to Beaumont and to Louisiana to work as a prostitute. Investigators used online ads and corresponding hotel records in New Orleans, Lake Charles, Lafayette and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Because the internet has changed the face of prostitution, there are many new issues that must be dealt with in a prostitution prosecution.

In the major Louisiana cities, especially Baton Rouge and New Orleans, law enforcement agencies have been making numerous prostitution arrests using any number of undercover methods, including:

  • Sting Operations – Wearing provocative clothing and posing as prostitutes, police officers use this roadside method to lure would-be customers off the street and into the bedroom, only to be arrested for prostitution.
  • Prostitution Ring Breakups – Using the reverse tactic from sting operations, police officers pose as customers seeking to find sex for hire. Once inside the supposed massage parlors or with the personal escort, the police will make arrests upon determining the falsehood of the organization.
  • Sex Online – Websites galore offer services for companionship as a cover up for prostitution. Acting as potential customers for these Internet-based sites, law enforcement agencies are able to distinguish the legal from the illegal and make prostitution arrests accordingly. In Baton Rouge, law enforcement is especially targeting online personal profile ads, such as those seen on Craig’s List.org. With increasing Internet usage, sex-oriented websites are under close scrutiny for suspicious illegal sexual activities.

If you or someone you know has been charged with prostitution or pandering, contact Baton Rouge Criminal Lawyer Carl Barkemeyer for a free consultation.

 

Source: The Associated Press, “Houston man guilty in online prostitution ads case,”January 4, 2012.

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Possible Life Sentence for Drug Conviction

Brock Doucet of Prairieville was found guilty of creation or operation of clandestine methamphetamine laboratory and possession of a schedule II drugs last month.  Doucet faces a possible life sentence due to his prior convictions.

Creation of methamphetamine lab and manufacturing meth are serious felony charges in Louisiana.  They carry a sentencing range of 5-15 years in prison.

In Louisiana, creation or operation of a clandestine laboratory for the unlawful manufacture of a controlled dangerous substance is any of the following:

(1) The purchase, sale, distribution, or possession of any material, compound, mixture, preparation, supplies, equipment, or structure with the intent that it be used for the unlawful manufacture of a controlled dangerous substance.

(2) The transportation or arranging for the transportation of any material, compound, mixture, preparation, supplies, or equipment with the intent that such material, compound, mixture, preparation, supplies, or equipment be used for the unlawful manufacture of a controlled dangerous substance.

(3) The distribution of any material, compound, mixture, preparation, equipment, supplies, or products, which material, compound, mixture, preparation, equipment, supplies, or products have been used in, or produced by, the unlawful manufacture of a controlled dangerous substance.

(4) The disposal of any material, compound, mixture, preparation, equipment, supplies, products, or byproducts, which material, compound, mixture, preparation, equipment, supplies, products, or byproducts have been used in, or produced by, the unlawful manufacture of a controlled dangerous substance.

Ascension Parish sheriff’s deputies arrested Doucet on Oct. 1, 2010, after searching his home due to a complaint that someone was cooking meth at his home.

Sheriff’s detectives found methamphetamine-smoking pipes, baggies containing methamphetamine, digital scales and two bags containing items used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Prosecutors said the two felony convictions were Doucet’s sixth case where he has a felony conviction and said they plan to file a multiple offender bill under which Doucet could receive a life sentence.

A multiple offender bill, also known as the Habitual Offender Law, enhances the sentences for those convicted of second or subsequent offenses or those with prior felony convictions within the last ten years, prior to the commission of the current offense.

If you or someone you know is facing drug charges, contact Baton Rouge Criminal Defense Attorney Carl Barkemeyer to discuss your case.  You may be facing charges such as possession, possession with intent, or distribution of drugs.

 

Source: The Advocate, “Life term possible in drug conviction,” December 23, 2011.

 

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