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United States v. Sodagar

July 23, 2008

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MOHAMMED SODAGAR, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joan H. Lefkow United States District Judge

Judge Joan H. Lefkow

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Defendant Mohammed Sodagar is charged with five counts of making false or fraudulent claims, one count of fraud with identification documents, one count of misuse of a social security number, two counts of producing/trafficking in a counterfeit device(s), and one count of misuse of a passport. Sodagar has moved under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 41(h) and 12(b)(3)(C) to quash his arrest and to suppress evidence that was seized during a warrantless search of his residence on November 29, 2007. Sodagar has asked, in the alternative, that the court hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether there was probable cause for the search. The government relies on the exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement and argues that the uncontested facts demonstrate that the officers were justified in searching for a gun within the residence.

Because the motion can be resolved based on the uncontested facts provided by the parties, there is no need to hold an evidentiary hearing. See United States v. Villegas, 388 F.3d 317, 324 (7th Cir. 2004) ("Because the purpose of an evidentiary hearing is to resolve material factual disputes among the parties, a hearing is not required in the absence of such disputes.")

For the following reasons, Sodagar's motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence [#50] will be denied.

I. Facts

The relevant facts provided by Sodagar in his motion, affidavit, and reply memorandum, which are assumed to be true for the purpose of resolving this motion, are as follows. On November 28, 2007 the Morton Grove police officers ("MGPD") came to Sodagar's residence. During this time Sodagar thought he was under arrest.*fn1 He states that "he did not ever say to his son ... 'I am going to shoot you,' or anything else to that effect" and that he never had a gun, nor was there ever a gun inside his residence. Sodagar recounts that the MGPD "told him that they had to search the house" to which he responded "no." The MGPD told him that they had to search the house for a gun, to which Sodagar responded by saying "I never had a gun."

The MGPD continued to tell Sodagar that they had to search the house and he continued to deny their entry. Sodagar then said "I don't give you permission, but if you are forcing me, then I'll go with you." Sodagar states that the police responded by telling him that they would have to handcuff him if he went inside with them, to which he responded that he did not want to be handcuffed. Following this exchange, the MGPD entered the residence.

After entering, MGPD Officer Keith Kamys saw and reported what he believed to be ten envelopes containing $10,000 and "hundreds of credit cards in an open briefcase" that did not bear the names of any of the residents of the house. Def.'s Mot. to Suppress ¶¶ 3-6. The following day, November 29, 2007, the MGPD returned to the Sodagar residence with a search warrant and proceeded to search the home. On the same date, following the search, the officers arrested Sodagar without a warrant.

In addition, Sodagar does not contest the following facts provided by the government.*fn2

When police arrived at the Sodagar residence on November 28, 2007 they were responding to a 911 call reporting a person with a gun at that location. The police were informed en route to the residence that the call was placed by the homeowner's son, who said he and his father were having an argument.*fn3 Two police officers spoke with Sodagar and his son, Saarum, outside of the house after having separated them. Saarum told the police that his father threatened to shoot him. Sodagar told the officers that his son was threatening to hit him. Following their discussion with Sodagar and Saarum, the officers entered the residence to look for the reported gun, which Sodagar's wife, Seema, told them "might be in the bedroom closet."

Once inside the Sodagar home, the MGPD proceeded to the bedroom closet. The officers observed locked boxes in the closet and Sodagar gave them the keys. The police opened the boxes with those keys. They did not find a gun in the closet but did see more than $100,000 in cash, gold bullion, multiple credit cards, and financial records of individuals not resident in the home. Having not found a gun inside the residence, the MGPD left, instructing Saarum and Sodagar not to speak to each other for the rest of the evening.

The following day the MGPD filed a complaint for a search warrant of Sodagar's residence. The complaint was based on both the observations made at the residence the day before and an interview with Saarum in which Saarum indicated that his father did not have a job, maintained several P.O. boxes where he received mail, and had created multiple identities for himself and his children. Saarum also reported that he had observed multiple credit cards, financial statements, and social security documents with the names of unknown persons in his father's possession and he and his family believed that his father was involved in illegal activity. A judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County issued a search warrant for Sodagar's residence.

The MGPD arrived at Sodagar's residence on November 29, 2007, when he was not home, and presented a search warrant to Seema. She consented to their entrance. As a result of their search, the officers found and seized, among other items, cash, gold, credit cards in 22 different names, 11 Illinois identification cards with different names and Sodagar's picture, Social Security cards in 36 different names, 9 passports in a variety of names, computers, bags of mail addressed to individuals not residing at Sodagar's residence, and financial ...


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