M.D.La.: SW for examination of boat two years after alleged false BP spill claim for repairs not performed wasn’t stale

Defendant was suspected of making a fraudulent claim in the BP oil spill litigation claiming repairs on a boat. The government gathered information from others that strongly suggested that the boat was neither damaged nor repaired. The government finally applied for a search warrant two years after the claim was made. Defendant’s staleness argument fails. The condition of the boat now would show whether it had been repaired or not, and it had been seen in defendant’s driveway on a trailer all that time. The search warrant could be relied upon in good faith, so the court does not even need to consider probable cause [which there certainly appeared to be]. United States v. Anny, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67066 (M.D.La. May 23, 2016):

In the instant case, the underlying wire fraud was based on purported repairs to the boat and its trailer. Therefore, the relevant evidence as to whether the repairs claimed by the defendants had actually been performed would be revealed by a physical inspection of the boat, its engines, and the trailer. The physical properties of the boat and trailer are the types of evidence that would be expected to be discoverable for long periods of time. Moreover, the boat and trailer themselves are the type of evidence that can be expected to be found at the defendants’ home over long periods of time—particularly here, when Agents had viewed the boat in front of the defendants’ house over the course of nearly two years. The search warrant affidavit describes how, after becoming suspicious of the allegedly fraudulent payment, the Agents confirmed that the defendants still lived at the address where the boat was registered, that they still owned the boat, and that the boat was still parked outside the defendants’ home just three days before the search warrant was authorized. Therefore, the Court finds that the information was not stale, and it was reasonable for the Agents to expect that the boat would still be found at the search location. The facts contained within the search warrant affidavit, taken together, are more than sufficient to render the Agents’ reliance on the warrant objectively reasonable. Accordingly, the Agents acted in objectively good faith, and thus the evidence obtained through this Court’s search warrant is admissible. See Leon, 468 U.S. at 922-23.

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