United States District Court, D. Minnesota
P. Steinkamp, Assistant U.S. Attorney, United States
Attorney's Office, Minnesota, for Plaintiff;
J. Leunig, The Law Office of John J. Leunig, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, for Defendant Rodolfo Anguiano, Jr.; and
Patrick G. Leach, Leach Law Office, 6465 Wayzata Boulevard,
St. Louis Park, Minnesota, for Defendant Kelvin Baez
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
T. SCHULTZ, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
5, 2017, while patrolling in Bloomington, Minnesota, Officer
Jacob Gruber spotted a red Volkswagen Jetta with California
license plates enter the Days Inn parking lot. Tr. at 33-34,
36-38. Officer Gruber, who regularly patrolled the
“high-crime area” surrounding the Days Inn, had
seen the same car at the motel approximately a week earlier.
Tr. at 38. At that time, Officer Gruber noted the
Volkswagen's tabs were expired and its registered owner,
Elizabeth Sanchez, was not registered at the motel. He did
not investigate further at that time. Id.
when the Volkswagen exited the Days Inn parking lot on May 5,
Officer Gruber followed. Tr. at 41-42. He confirmed its
registration was still expired. Id. Officer Gruber
suspected the driver was involved in drug activity because
the car had California plates and because it's registered
owner was not registered at the Days Inn. Tr. at 43-44, 54.
When the Volkswagen crossed the middle yellow line, Officer
Gruber pulled the car over. Tr. at 43, 152.
Gruber approached the car; he discovered its sole occupant
was Defendant Rodolfo Anguiano, Jr. (“Anguiano”).
Tr. at 45. Officer Gruber noticed an
“overwhelming” air freshener smell emanating from
dryer sheets covering the car's floor. Tr. at 46. Because
dryer sheets may mask the odor of narcotics and confuse
drug-sniffing dogs, Officer Gruber viewed them as further
indication of possible drug activity. Tr. at 47-48. Officer
Gruber learned Anguiano lacked proof of insurance and was
unable to identify the car's previous owner. Tr. at
Gruber then asked Anguiano to get out of the car to continue
their conversation. Tr. at 50. Anguiano said he was in town
for three days to attend a wedding but could not describe the
wedding's location. The story also contradicted Officer
Gruber's recollection of the car's earlier presence
at the Days Inn. Id. Officer Gruber's suspicion
was not allayed when Anguiano explained he had flown to
Minnesota while his cousin had driven the car out from
California. Tr. at 51-52. Officer Gruber had been trained
that drug smugglers often have third parties drive their
vehicle to a location before personally retrieving their car.
Gruber asked Anguiano whether he had ever been arrested. Tr.
at 53. He initially replied that he had “never been in
trouble for drugs before.” Id. A criminal
background check revealed Anguiano had been previously
arrested, though never convicted, for drug crimes. Tr. at 53.
Given his suspicion that drug activity was afoot, Officer
Gruber sought Anguiano's consent to search the
Volkswagen. Tr. at 54. Anguiano refused. Id. As the
conversation coalesced around drugs, Officer Gruber testified
Anguiano became increasingly tense and nerve-wracked.
Id. Officer Gruber called a drug-sniffing dog to
examine the car. Id.
arrived five to ten minutes later. Tr. at 55. By then
Anguiano had been patted down for officer safety but had not
been handcuffed or arrested. Id. The dog sniffed for
2-3 minutes but never alerted for drugs despite showing
interest in the car's undercarriage. Id. Officer
Gruber returned to his squad car to discuss with another
officer how to proceed:
Officer Gruber: Christ, Brian. … It's hard to
believe. I don't think I've ever had such good shit.
Officer 2: It's a pretty good suspicion on that one.
Officer Gruber: I don't know. Maybe he's doing
Officer 2: Could be.
Officer Gruber: Smuggling people.
Officer 2: You never know.
Officer Gruber: Fuck.
Officer 2: It's the nature of the game though. You
can't get them all.
Officer Gruber: It sucks to let it go.
[Ex. 1, 19:52:21-19:52:47].
Gruber returned to Anguiano's car, handed him his
driver's license and said “no ticket or anything
for you.” Tr. at 58; Ex. 1, 19:53:00-19:53:25. As
Anguiano opened his wallet, Officer Gruber noticed what
appeared to be a United States Drug Enforcement Agency
(“DEA”) badge and “more than ten”
plastic cards, presumably credit cards. Tr. at
58-59. He asked Anguiano “What's that
badge?” to which Anguiano initially replied
“nothing, ” but within 18 seconds of Officer
Gruber's original question Anguiano presented the badge
and explained he had purchased it on eBay as a Halloween
prop. Tr. at 61-62; Ex. 1, 19:53:08-19:54:26. Anguiano never
presented himself to Officer Gruber as a DEA agent.
Officer Gruber's earlier promises to let Anguiano go,
Officer Gruber ordered Anguiano to “hang out here for a
minute, ” returned to his squad car, and called his
supervisor Sergeant Cardenas. Ex. 1, 19:54:16-19:55:21.
Before calling Sergeant Cardenas, Officer Gruber muted the
squad car's audio recorder. He never turned the audio
back on. Tr. at 92. Officer Gruber testified that after
calling Sergeant Cardenas he decided he would arrest
Anguiano; Sergeant Cardenas testified he told Officer Gruber
to wait at the scene until he arrived. Tr. at 63-64. While
waiting for Sergeant Cardenas, Officer Gruber and another
officer conversed with Anguiano. Ex. 1, 19:56:22-20:02:52.
The video, with its audio muted, depicts Anguiano opening the
car doors and trunk as if to allow the officers to search his
car, which they never did. Id.
on route to the scene, Sergeant Cardenas confirmed that
Anguiano was not a DEA agent and learned of Anguiano's
prior drug smuggling arrests and frequent U.S. - Mexico
border crossings. Tr. at 208-09. When Sergeant Cardenas
arrived, he spoke briefly in private with Officer Gruber.
Id. Sergeant Cardenas then quickly spoke with
Anguiano before placing him under arrest. Ex. 1,
testimony regarding Anguiano's arrest is inconsistent in
several important respects. Officer Gruber testified that
after he spoke with Sergeant Cardenas he was going to arrest
Anguiano; Sergeant Cardenas testified he told Officer Gruber
not to let Anguiano go but to await his arrival. Tr. at
63-64, 318. Officer Gruber initially testified he arrested
Anguiano for identity theft, but later stated Anguiano was
arrested for both identity theft and obstructing legal
process. Tr. at 63, 115-16. The identity theft arrest was
allegedly predicated on Anguiano's possession of numerous
credit cards in other peoples' names, but Officer Gruber
acknowledged he did not know whether the plastic cards were
credit cards until after Anguiano's arrest. Tr.
at 115-16, 198.
Cardenas testified that he arrested Anguiano for obstructing
legal process because Officer Gruber had told him Anguiano
initially refused his request to examine the fake DEA badge.
Tr. at 276-77. Officer Gruber admitted Anguiano did present
the badge after a momentary delay, before then showing
Officer Gruber how easily they could be found on eBay. Tr. at
62; Ex. 1, 19:53:21-19:53:21:26. Anguiano was not arrested
for impersonating a DEA agent (because he never claimed to be
one) and mere possession of the fake badge is not a crime.
Tr. at 109, 116. In any event, the obstructing legal process
arrest occurred at least 15 minutes after Anguiano allegedly
refused - then presented - the badge for Officer Gruber's
inspection. Ex. 1, 19:53:05-20:08:12. Ultimately, Anguiano
was never charged with either obstructing legal process or
the arrest, Anguiano's Volkswagen was thoroughly
searched. Tr. at 64. Inside, officers discovered a satchel
containing two additional law enforcement badges and $4, 000
in cash, and revealed that compartments in the car easily
detached, suggesting they could be used for concealment of
contraband. Tr. at 64-65. No drugs or other contraband were
found. Tr. at 65, 114-15.
impounding Anguiano's car, Officer Gruber drove to the
Embassy Suites.Tr. at 67-68. He visited the front desk and
confirmed Anguiano was registered to Room 714 but the
Volkswagen's registered owner, ...