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United States v. Tragas

March 16, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
D-10 JOANNE TRAGAS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Thomas L. Ludington

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS, DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO PERMIT DEFENDANT TO ACCESS LAPTOP COMPUTER TO REVIEW DISCOVERY, STRIKING THE GOVERNMENT'S SUPPLEMENTAL BRIEF AND DIRECTING THE CLERK TO REMOVE THE IMAGES FROM THE DOCKET, DETERMINING EXCLUDABLE DELAY, AND SCHEDULING FINAL PRETRIAL CONFERENCE AND TRIAL DATES

Now before the Court is Defendant Joanne Tragas' motion to suppress [Dkt. # 142] filed on January 11, 2010. Defendant Tragas seeks suppression of all communications seized from a specified laptop computer.*fn1 On February 1, 2010, the government filed a response [Dkt. # 152]; and on February 23, 2010, Defendant filed a reply [Dkt. # 163]. The government filed a sur-reply brief [Dkt. # 165] on February 26, 2010. The Court held a hearing on the motion on March 8, 2010. Subsequent to the hearing, the government filed a supplemental brief [Dkt. # 173]. The supplemental brief, however, will be stricken because the government did not seek leave to file the brief nor provide any justification for the belated filing. Perhaps most importantly, Defendant has not had an opportunity to respond to the supplemental brief. Nonetheless, as further explained below, Defendant's motion will be denied for lack of standing under the Fourth Amendment.

I.

On July 20, 2009, a criminal complaint was sworn by a federal agent before Magistrate Judge Charles E. Binder as to Defendant Joanne Tragas. The agent stated, in part, the following:

2. On December 11, 2008, as a result of an on-going local investigation, Eugene Watkins, Derrick James Moore, and Ashley Rebecca Allen were arrested for felony larceny by the Saginaw County Sheriff's Department in the parking lot at the Meijer store on Tittabawassee Road in Saginaw, Michigan. They had fourteen counterfeit Visa gift cards in their possession, some of which they had just used to purchase various items from that Meijer store. . . .

7. [In a later interview] . . . Allen stated . . . that she used Visa gift cards given to her by Watkins to purchase [various items from various stores in Saginaw, Flint, and Ypsilanti, Michigan.] Allen . . . had a truck [used for driving Moore and Watkins to various stores and for transporting large items.]

8. Allen explained that Moore and Watkins obtain the counterfeit Visa gift cards from a person in Detroit. . . . Though she did not know the name of the person who supplies the cards to Watkins, she was able to identify the person [as Brian Denard Coleman] from a group of driver's license photographs. . . . . . .

11. [After a search of his residence in December 2008,] Coleman . . . offered to cooperate with the continuing investigation. . . . Coleman . . . admitted that . . . he had been purchasing counterfeit cards from . . . twin brothers, Dion and Dionte Hunter . . . [who] generally drive a white BMW or a white Range Rover. . . . . . .

13. Coleman explained that he was instructed by the Hunters to return the fraudulent Visa gift cards to them when the cards no longer worked so the Hunters could reencode them with a new account number and sell them again. . . . . . .

16. I ran Dion Richard Hunter's criminal history through NCIC and learned that Dion was arrested in June of 2008 by the Southfield, Michigan Police Department . . . [while] driving a 2007 white 750LI BMW registered to Stacy Pugh of Detroit, Michigan.

18. On March 12, 2009, I spoke to the service manager for the BMW dealership in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The service manager told me that the dealership had serviced the white BMW registered to Pugh on March 10, 2009. He said that Dion Hunter had brought the vehicle in for maintenance.

19. On March 13, 2009, Pugh told me that she had leased the BMW through a broker to a person known to her only as "Twin." The last lease payment Pugh received for the vehicle was in January of 2009 . . . . Pugh thereafter contacted BMW and reported the vehicle missing. Pugh gave me consent to search the vehicle, which had already been recovered from the parking lot at Dion Hunter's apartment complex by a repossession company. The "repo" company also gave consent to search the BMW. Five Visa gift cards, a laptop computer, a credit card encoder, credit card receipts, two photographs of Dion and Dionte Hunter with other individuals, and mail . . . addressed to Dion . . . and . . . Dionte Hunter were found during the search of the BMW. . . .

22. On March 20, 2009, the apartment rented by Dion Hunter was searched pursuant to a federal search warrant. . . . [A] Wal-Mart gift card was found . . . , [which had been] purchased fraudulently on February 20, 2009 at a Wal-Mart in Columbus, Ohio[, according to Wal-Mart's asset protection unit. The Wal-Mart card, along with one other Wal-Mart card,] were used to buy a total of eighteen $100 American Express gift cards from WalMart's internet site, all of which were mailed to Joanne Kolomvakou at 1918 Cape Coral Parkway in Cape Coral, Florida. The email account used to order the gift cards is registered to jtragas@yahoo.com.

23. On or about February 2, 2009, the sale of a residence at 1918 Cape Coral Parkway in Cape Coral, Florida was closed. The title is in the name of Giannoula Kolomvakou of Sparta, Greece. . . . In the course of preparing the paperwork for the transaction, the title company was told that Joanne Tragas is the "English" version of the name Giannoula Kolomvakou.

24. Based on the information I have acquired during this investigation, I have reason to believe that one person is using the name Joanne Tragas, Joanne Kolomvakou and Giannoula Kolomvakou. In fact, on or about July 7, 2009, a Secret Service agent observed packages addressed to Joanne Tragas and Joanne ...


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