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United States v. Detloff Marketing and Asset Management, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

June 18, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff,
Detloff Marketing and Asset Management, Inc., Jeffery J. Detloff, and Lori K. Detloff, Defendants.


          Paul A. Magnuson United States District Court Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) of United States Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer. (Docket No. 77.) The R&R recommends denying Defendant Jeffery Detloff's Motions to Suppress (Docket Nos. 42 and 43), and Defendant Detloff Marketing and Asset Management's Motion to Suppress (Docket No. 54). Defendants filed timely objections to the R&R. (Docket Nos. 78, 79.)

         The Court must conduct a de novo review of any portion of the R&R to which specific objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); D. Minn. L.R. 72.2(b). Based on that de novo review, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court overrules Defendants' objections and adopts the R&R.


         The full factual background of this matter is set forth in the R&R and need not be repeated here. In short, the Detloffs and Detloff Marketing and Asset Management (“DMAM”) are suspected of engaging in a scheme to defraud various financial institutions by submitting false bids and invoices and by soliciting/receiving kickbacks. On June 10, 2015, FBI Agent Jonathan Holden and Assistant United States Attorney (“AUSA”) Andrew Rosa questioned Jeffery Detloff in his office at DMAM's facility while agents conducted a search of the building. Detloff challenges the constitutionality of his questioning. Both Detloff and DMAM challenge the constitutionality of: (1) the search warrants; (2) the May 2015 search of Detloff's trash as part of the FBI's investigation; and (3) the search of a storage area within DMAM's facility.


         A. Constitutionality of Questioning

          Detloff argues that his statements during questioning should be suppressed because he was subjected to a custodial interrogation and was not given a Miranda warning.

         “Miranda . . . requires that a warning as to the availability of the privilege against self-incrimination and to the assistance of counsel be issued prior to questioning whenever a suspect is (1) interrogated (2) while in custody.” United States v. Griffin, 922 F.2d 1343, 1347 (8th Cir. 1990) (emphasis omitted). The Court must therefore determine whether Detloff was in custody while federal agents were questioning him in his office at DMAM's facility. “Custody occurs either upon formal arrest or under any other circumstances where the suspect is deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way.” Id. (emphases omitted). But not all interactions with law enforcement rise to the level of custody; only if the individual reasonably believes that his “freedom of action ha[s] been curtailed to a ‘degree associated with formal arrest'” is he in custody for purposes of Miranda. Id. (quoting California v. Beheler, 462 U.S. 1121, 1125 (1983)).

         To determine whether Detloff was in custody, Griffin suggests consideration of the following factors:

(1) whether the suspect was informed at the time of questioning that the questioning was voluntary, that the suspect was free to leave or request the officers to do so, or that the suspect was not considered under arrest; (2) whether the suspect possessed unrestrained freedom of movement during questioning; (3) whether the suspect initiated contact with authorities or voluntarily acquiesced to official requests to respond to questions; (4) whether strong arm tactics or deceptive stratagems were employed during questioning; (5) whether the atmosphere of the questioning was police dominated; or, (6) whether the suspect was placed under arrest at the termination of the questioning.

Id. at 1349.

         As discussed below, these factors indicate that Detloff was not in custody during his questioning.

         1. Voluntary Questioning and Freedom to Leave

         Agent Holden and AUSA Rosa were present during Detloff's interview. Detloff alleges that because Holden and Rosa cannot recall whether they informed Detloff that the interview was voluntary, this factor weighs “substantially in favor of suppression.” (Docket No. 78 at 10.) However, even if the agents failed to inform Detloff that questioning was voluntary and he was free to leave, “‘the opposite inference'-that a suspect not being told he is free to leave during police questioning is a strong indication he was in custody-does not necessarily follow, because ‘the touchstone of our inquiry remains whether [the suspect] was restrained as though he were under formal arrest.'” United States v. Laurita, 821 F.3d 1020, 1024 (8th Cir. 2016); (quoting United States v. Lowen, 647 F.3d 863, 868 (8th Cir. 2011)). As stated in the R&R, there is no evidence in the record that Detloff was restrained in any way or that he was denied freedom of ...

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