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United States v. Senty-Haugen

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

November 21, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
Arthur Dale Senty-Haugen, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND ORDER

          LEO I. BRISBOIS U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter comes before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to a general assignment, made in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Rule 72.1, and upon Defendant Arthur Dale Senty-Haugen's (“Defendant”) Motion to Suppress, [Docket No. 24].[1] On October 5, 2017, a hearing was held regarding the parties' pretrial motions.[2] At the motions hearing, the parties requested the opportunity to submit supplemental briefing which was completed on October 26, 2017, and Defendant's Motion to Suppress, [Docket No. 24], was then taken under advisement at that time. Also on October 26, 2017, Defendant filed a Motion for Leave to File Additional Documents, [Docket No. 37], and the Government filed its Motion to Strike Pro Se Filings. [Docket No. 38]. Thereafter, the Court informed the parties that it would take all the parties motions under advisements on October 26, 2017. (Text Only Entry [Docket No. 39]).

         For reasons discussed herein, the Court recommends that Defendant's Motion to Suppress, [Docket No. 24], be DENIED. The Court also DENIES as moot Defendant's Motion for Leave to File Additional Documents, [Docket No. 37], as well as, the Government's Motion to Strike Pro Se Filings. [Docket No. 38].

         I. BACKGROUND AND STATEMENT OF RELEVANT FACTS

         A. Background

         Defendant is charged with one (1) count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 286, and four (4) counts of false claims, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 287 and 2. (Indictment [Docket No. 1]).

         B. Relevant Facts [3]

         The record presently before the Court indicates that in January 2012, Minnesota Sex Offender Program (“MSOP”) Special Investigator Thane Murphy (“SI Murphy”) was randomly monitoring recorded phone calls from clients when he heard a call Defendant[4] had placed that “didn't sound right.” (October 5, 2017, Motions Hearing, Digital Recording at 11:37-11:39 a.m.).[5] SI Murphy then began specifically listening to Defendant's phone calls when he monitored phone calls. (Id. at 12:41-12:46 p.m.).

         Through a series of monitored phone calls, SI Murphy heard Defendant instruct a third party to do online banking, as well as, instruct that third party to set up and check various email accounts. (Id.). These online bank accounts, as well as, the various email addresses discussed included the names and social security numbers of other clients within the MSOP. (Id. at 11:37- 11:39 a.m., 12:13-12:15 p.m.). Upon listening to the phone calls and hearing Defendant discuss the names and social security numbers of other MSOP clients, SI Murphy became suspicious that criminal activity was afoot. (Id. at 11:38-11:40 a.m.). SI Murphy continued to monitor Defendant's phone calls, and he wrote an incident report regarding each suspicious call. (Id. at 11:39-11:40 a.m.).

         SI Murphy thereafter requested a history of Defendant through the incident report database. (Id. at 11:40-11:41 a.m.). That history revealed that in 2010 another Special Investigator requested that SI Murphy and his then-partner search Defendant's room for financial reports related to a mail fraud investigation at that time. (Id. at 11:40-11:42 a.m., 12:18-12:20 p.m.). However, SI Murphy testified that the 2010 search was unrelated to the investigation which is the subject of the present motion. (Id.).

         SI Murphy then continued to monitor Defendant's phone calls and create incident reports because he was not sure who all was involved in the suspicious conduct. (Id. at 11:46-11:47 a.m.). During this continued monitoring, SI Murphy heard Defendant instruct another third party to go online to complete tax forms again using other clients names and social security numbers, to check various email accounts under other clients' names, and to order merchandise online to be sent to the MSOP at Moose Lake. (Id. at 11:43-11:46 a.m., 12:13-12:15 p.m.). Defendant also instruct the third party to check the account balances on various banks accounts under the names of other clients by giving the third party the different names and all the identifying information for other clients at the MSOP. (Id.). During the phone calls, SI Murphy would also hear the Defendant and the third party refer to individuals by a numbered system and read numerical values correlating to those numbers.

         As part of his continued investigation, SI Murphy also obtained a digital copy of Defendant's client network materials to search for anything related to false taxes being filed. (Id. at 12:01-12:06 p.m.).[6] In this search of Defendant's client network, SI Murphy discovered a spreadsheet with clients' initials and a list of numerical values on it, as well as, tax forms with other clients' names on the forms. (Id. at 12:10-12:14 p.m.). SI Murphy testified at the motions hearing that this spreadsheet matched the numbers he had heard the Defendant and the third party referring to in various phone calls. (Id.).

         On April 16, 2013, after SI Murphy had continued to monitor Defendant's phone calls and reviewed his incident report history, SI Murphy asked the Officer of the Day to search Defendant's room to look for tax forms, address books, financial information, or anything financially suspicious that might help SI Murphy collect addition materials for his investigation. (Id. at 11:41-11:43 a.m., 12:13-12:15 p.m.). As a result of that room search, officers seized tax and financial related paperwork, including a hard copy of the spreadsheet SI Murphy discovered on Defendant's client network, as well as, an address book. (Id. at 12:15-12:16 p.m.).

         SI Murphy also-with the approval of his supervisors-monitored Defendant's mail going in and out of the MSOP except for Defendant's legal mail. (Id. at 12:18-12:22 p.m.). Upon SI Murphy's request, the mail room at the MSOP began specifically monitoring Defendant's ingoing and outgoing non-legal mail. (Id.).[7] SI Murphy testified at the motions hearing that he only remembered one or two pieces of mail belonging to Defendant being brought to SI Murphy's attention while Defendant's mail was being monitored. (Id. at 12:22-12:24 p.m.).

         Regarding the above investigation, SI Murphy created two Investigation Reports: Investigation Report 2012-0291 and Investigation Report 2012-0356. (Def.'s Ex. 6, 7).[8] SI Murphy testified that he created two reports because, after he completed his first report, Defendant began communicating with a second third party in the same manner he had been communicating with the original third party. (October 5, 2017, Motions Hearing, Digital Recording at 11:46-11:48 a.m.). In January 2014, SI Murphy turned his Investigation Reports, including all of his findings, over to Brian Belich, an investigator at the Internal Revenue Service. (Id. at 12:24-12:26 p.m.). SI Murphy continued to monitor Defendant after he provided his reports to the Internal Revenue Service. (Id.).

         II. DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS. [DOCKET NO. 24].

         Defendant moves this Court for an Order suppressing any evidence obtained as a result of any warrantless search of his phone calls, mail, computer network, and room after he became the suspect of suspicious criminal activity. (Def.'s Mot. to Suppress [Docket No. 24]).[9]

         Defendant argues that “[t]he warrantless searches and seizures of [Defendant's] property and communications after he became the focus of an investigation were an unconstitutional violation of his right to be free from unreasonable searches and searches under the state and federal constitutions.” (Def. Mem., [Docket No. 36], at 6). Defendant reasons that “the Minnesota Patient's Bill of Rights is a declaration of the understanding of patients' retention of civil liberties that are recognized and permitted by society and is a source of a reasonable expectation of privacy under the Minnesota and federal constitutions.” (Id. at 7).

         Defendant also submitted a pro se memorandum in which his only constitutional argument unique from that of his legal counsel is that he was in the first instance unlawfully detained at the MSOP, and therefore, according to Defendant, he retains the Fourth Amendment right and protections of a private citizen. (Pro Se Mem., [Docket No. 36-1], at 1-9).[10]

         The Court takes each of these arguments in turn.

         A. Defendant's Pro Se Argument

         Defendant's pro se memorandum specifically argues that “Defendant has been unlawfully detained by MSOP since January 6, 2009, ” and therefore SI Murphy “did not have legal jurisdiction to conduct searches of the Defendant's phone, mail and/or computers without first obtaining search warrants or subpoenas.” (Id. at 8-9). This argument is based on Defendant's assertion that he “had all the rights afforded to a private United States citizen.” (Id. at 9).

         In his argument, Defendant acknowledges that on April 1, 1996, he was committed to the MSOP as a sexually psychopathic person and sexually dangerous person for an indeterminate period of time. (Id. at 1).

         Defendant further acknowledges that in November 2004, he “was indicted by a grand jury on federal charges and eventually pled guilty to five counts of aiding and abetting false claims and one count of conspiracy to defraud the government in connection with a tax fraud scheme, and was sentenced to 57 months' imprisonment in a federal facility.” Senty-Haugen v. Ludeman, 10-cv-3073 (ADM/FLN), Docket No. 15 at 2 (D. Minn. June 8, 2011); (Pro Se Mem., [Docket No. 36-1], at 2). Thereafter, Defendant was transferred from the MSOP to federal custody.

         Defendant argues that the MSOP voluntarily relinquished jurisdiction over him when he was transferred into federal custody, and therefore, Defendant argues, the MSOP “did not have the legal jurisdiction to take custody [of Defendant] after the Defendant [was] discharged from his federal sentence.” (Id. at 3-4). Essentially, Defendant argues that upon his discharge from federal custody he was a private citizen, and therefore, the MSOP unlawfully took custody of him upon his return to the MSOP. (Id.).

         However, as Defendant must concede, he has already presented this argument to the Court in Senty-Haugen v. Ludeman, 10-cv-3073 (ADM/FLN) (D. Minn.), and the Court rejected Defendant's argument. In fact, Defendant not only acknowledges his prior presentation of this argument challenging his underling commitment, he quotes the Court's previous Order at length. (See, Pro Se Mem., [Docket No. 36-1], at 5).

         When Defendant previously challenged his underlying civil commitment raising the same arguments as he again raises here, the Honorable Ann D. Montgomery, United States District Court Judge for the District of Minnesota, held that Defendant's claim was procedurally defaulted and that “[e]ven assuming that cause exist[ed] to excuse [Defendant's] procedural default, his claim fails on the merits.” Senty-Haugen v. Ludeman, 10-cv-3073 (ADM/FLN), Order [Docket No. 15], at 3 (D. Minn. June 8, 2011). Judge Montgomery reasoned that as Defendant was committed to the MSOP indefinitely, and as the MSOP was the first to obtain custody of Defendant, it had primary jurisdiction over him indefinitely. (Id. at 3-4). Judge Montgomery concluded that Defendant “was, in effect, temporarily removed or ‘on loan' from the primary jurisdiction of the MSOP pursuant to the federal writ, ” and that “[o]nce [Defendant's] federal sentence was completed, he was properly returned to the custody of the MSOP to carry out an indefinite sentence.” (Id. at 4). Accordingly, Judge Montgomery denied Defendant's Petitioner for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. Judge Montgomery also declined to grant Defendant a certificate of appealability.

         Although Defendant attempts to here again raise the argument he present to Judge Montgomery and challenge her holding as in err, this is not the proper forum for such a challenge. Judge Montgomery has already held that Defendant is lawfully committed to the MSOP; he cannot again challenge that commitment on the same grounds presented to Judge Montgomery. Defendant's avenue to a remedy, if any, is to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, not a collateral attack with this Court.[11]

         B. Defendant's Fourth Amendment Based Arguments

         The Fourth Amendment guarantees the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, ” and that “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation.” U.S. Const. Amend. IV.

         However, “[a]n individual asserting Fourth Amendment rights ‘must demonstrate that he personally has an expectation of privacy in the place searched, and that his expectation is reasonable.'” United States v. Barragan, 379 F.3d 524, 529 (8th Cir. 2004) (citing Minnesota v. Carter, 525 U.S. 83, 88 (1998)); Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 133-34 (1978). In any Fourth Amendment challenge, the Court must first determine whether a justifiable expectation of privacy is at issue; stated differently, the Court must determine whether the defendant challenger invoking the protection of the Fourth Amendment can claim a legitimate expectation of privacy that has been invaded by government action. See, e.g., Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735, 740 (1979). The defendant bears the burden of proving a reasonable expectation of privacy in the area searched. Rakas, 439 U.S. at 130-31. To establish a legitimate expectation of privacy, the defendant must show a subjective expectation of privacy and that his expectation of privacy is one that society is prepared to recognize as objectively reasonable. See, United States v. Mathias, 721 F.3d 952, 957 (8th Cir. 2013) (“The question of whether a person has a constitutionally protected reasonable expectation of privacy in an area requires us to ask (1) whether the individual manifested a subjective expectation of privacy in the area; and (2) whether society is willing to recognize the expectation as reasonable.”) (citing California v. Ciraolo, 476 U.S. ...


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