United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
session of said Court, held in the U.S. Courthouse, Detroit,
Michigan on January 19, 2017
PRESENT: Honorable Gerald E. Rosen United States District
OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
E. Rosen United States District Judge
Sidney Dowl and Angela Avery are charged in a 23-count
indictment with conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue
Service (the “IRS”) and the U.S. Treasury by
preparing and filing false individual income tax returns to
collect tax refund payments (Count 1), filing false claims
(Counts 2-15), and aggravated identity theft (Counts
16-23). The charges against Defendants arise from
evidence discovered on October 17, 2011, during a search of a
van owned by Defendant Avery after it was impounded following
the arrest of Defendant Dowl, who was driving the van at the
time. Defendant Avery now moves to suppress the evidence
found during the search. Defendant Dowl has joined in the
motion. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants'
motion will be denied.
afternoon of October 17, 2011, Southfield Police Officer
Tracey Krettlin stopped a 1999 Chevrolet Express van on 8
Mile Road near Beech Plaza for having illegally-tinted
windows and excessive radio noise. The van was registered to
Defendant Angela Avery who was not present in the van at the
time of the stop. The van was being driven by Defendant
Sidney Dowl. Defendant Dowl was accompanied by his aunt,
being stopped, Dowl provided his name to Officer Krettlin and
admitted that he did not have a driver's license because
it had been suspended. Dowl also disclosed that he was on
probation for receiving and concealing stolen catalytic
Krettlin thereafter conducted a LEIN check on Dowl, which
verified that Dowl lacked a driver's license, and that he
had been convicted 11 times for driving on a suspended
license. The LEIN check also revealed that Dowl was wanted
for multiple traffic arrest warrants from Detroit, Allen
Park, Garden City, and Warren; some of the warrants involved
a pre-set bail figure, including $3, 000 for Allen Park, $500
for Garden City, $5, 000 for Warren (for a marijuana case)
and $3, 500 for Warren for a receiving and concealing case.
the LEIN check, Dowl was placed under arrest for driving on a
suspended license and was issued a citation for the illegal
dark-tinted windows. Dowl was then transported to the
Southfield Police Department. He arrived at the police
department between 3:00 and 3:30 p.m. A lieutenant thereafter
set Dowl's bail at $100. In the meantime, Ross Towing was
called to tow the van away.
the van was towed, pursuant to Southfield Police Department
policy, Officer Krettlin performed an inventory search of the
interior. In conducting the search, Officer Krettlin
observed a number of miscellaneous papers in the van between
the front seats. Krettlin noted the miscellaneous papers on
his inventory list, but as the papers did not have any
readily apparent value, he did not seize them. Ross towing
subsequently removed the van to its lot in Southfield.
the time when Dowl was being booked at SPD headquarters,
Front Desk Officer Anthony McNeil received multiple telephone
calls about Avery's van and how it could be reclaimed.
McNeil reported these inquiries to Officer Patricia Meyer and
also to Watch Commander Lieutenant John Fisher. Fisher found
the phone calls to be a red flag perhaps indicating that
contraband was located inside the van.
10:00 and 10:30 p.m. that evening, Officer McNeil received a
telephone call about Dowl, who was still in jail at the
police station. The call had been transferred from the
Michigan State Police to the Southfield Police Department,
and then to Officer McNeil on the front desk. The female
caller said she had information about Dowl but she wanted to
remain anonymous. She said that she was a friend of Dowl and
his girlfriend, Angela Avery, and that she knew that Dowl had
been arrested and was in custody at the Southfield jail.
caller then reported that approximately two weeks earlier,
she had overheard Dowl and Avery discussing “bogus IRS
checks” that were inside Avery's Chevy van, which
by then had been impounded by Officer Krettlin.
McNeil reported the call to Watch Commander Fisher. He also
discussed the call with Officer Meyer.
at about 10:30 p.m., Angela Avery arrived at the Southfield
Police Department lobby, and attempted to post bond for one
of Dowl's warrants from Warren.Having just learned that
Avery was a suspect in the newly-reported allegation, Officer
Meyer went out to the lobby to speak with her, in an attempt
to gain information. Meyer knew from her police work that
often personal identification information is stolen from
medical offices. Therefore, as a ruse, Meyer claimed to
recognize Avery and asked if she worked in a doctor's
office. Avery told Meyer that she did not work at a medical
office; she worked at Quicken Loans. Believing that Avery had
just admitted working in an environment where personal
identification information was commonly available -- which
might facilitate identity theft -- Meyer ended the
conversation and went back into the station area and reported
what she had learned to Lieutenant Fisher and Officer McNeil.
thereafter, Lieutenant Fisher dispatched Specialist Katie
Schneider to go to Ross Towing to check the van for the
reported items. Around 11:00 p.m., Schneider searched the van
where, in a shoebox on the floor of the van between the
driver's and passenger's seats, she found a calendar,
a notebook and other papers with handwritten names, dates of
birth and Social Security numbers. [See Schneider
report at Government Ex. 7.] In the glove box of the van, she
found a vehicle's owner manual, and inside the cover of
the manual she found three U.S. Treasury checks written to
three different people. Id. One check was made
payable to Willie Williams at 20567 Rosemont Avenue, Detroit
(Dowl's address); another was payable to Tyrone Allen at
20575 Rosemont Avenue, Detroit (Angela Avery's address);
and the third one was payable to Davina Lloyd at 8411
Stahelin, Detroit (Katina Dowl's address). The checks had
been endorsed for deposit into Avery's bank account.
Officer Schneider seized these materials around 11:00 p.m. on
October 17th. See id.
next day, October 18, 2011, at around 11:30 a.m., Avery
reclaimed the van after paying the requisite fines and costs.
the evidence found in the van, the IRS's Criminal
Investigation Division was later able to connect Dowl and
Avery to a scheme to file false tax returns. This indictment
now move to suppress the evidence found in Defendant
Avery's van claiming that the search of the van was done
without a warrant and without the probable cause required to
support a ...