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United States v. Wahi

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

April 27, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
RAKwESH WAHI, Defendant.

OPINION

SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, District Judge.

This cause is before the Court on Defendant Rakesh Wahi's pro se Petition for Expungement of Record (d/e 86). On April 16, 2015, this Court held an evidentiary hearing at which the Court gave the parties the opportunity to present evidence. Following the hearing, the Court took the matter under advisement. The Court now DENIES the Petition. Defendant has failed to show that the dangers of unwarranted adverse consequences outweigh the public interest in maintenance of the records.

I. BACKGROUND

Defendant was originally charged in July 2011 by way of Indictment. See Indictment (d/e 7). On October 4, 2012, the grand jury returned a Superseding Indictment charging Defendant with conspiracy to commit health care fraud with co-Defendant Gautam Gupta, mail fraud, and health care fraud. Superseding Indictment (d/e 60). Defendant Gupta fled the country and is believed to be in India. See Am. Mot. to Unseal ΒΆ 2 (d/e 5) (filed June 17, 2011).

On October 11, 2012, the Government filed a Motion for Leave to Dismiss Indictment Against Defendant Wahi (d/e 77). The basis for the motion was that the Government received, pursuant to a search warrant, e-mails from Defendant's internet service provider (Microsoft) that included privileged communications between Defendant and his attorney. Despite efforts to filter those e-mails without viewing them and to remove them from the government computers, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Special Agent Kory Bakken accessed one or more of the privileged e-mails and the privileged e-mails remained on a government computer. Id.

The Government described the breach as minimal and unintentional, but believed it was impossible to determine whether Agent Bakken's access to privileged communications spread in any manner to others on the prosecution team because Agent Bakken was involved in daily trial preparation. Id. Therefore, the Government was unable to show that the information did not taint the prosecution. As such, the Government moved to dismiss the Indictment. Id.

On October 12, 2012, the Court granted the Government's motion. See October 12, 2012 Text Order. The Court found that violations of the attorney-client privilege occurred and dismissal of the Indictment with prejudice was appropriate. Id.

On January 12, 2015, Defendant filed the Petition at issue herein (d/e 86). Defendant asserts that he is qualified as a cardiac surgeon and has been unable to find meaningful employment in his profession due to the existence of the record in this case. Defendant asks that the records in this case be expunged and that the FBI be directed to "remove all of the information from its public records while allowing it (the FBI) to maintain a confidential record of the arrest and its complaint." Pet. at 3 (d/e 86). Defendant subsequently filed a Reply (d/e 93) raising numerous additional claims, including claims that the grand jury was not racially balanced and claims of governmental misconduct.

On April 6, 2015, this Court entered an Opinion finding that the Court had jurisdiction over the request to expunge the judicial records but lacked jurisdiction over the request to expunge records maintained by the executive branch, such as the FBI. See Opinion at 9 (d/e 99); see also United States v. Janik , 10 F.3d 470, 472 (7th Cir. 1993) (a district court is without jurisdiction to order any executive branch agency to expunge records). Therefore, the only records at issue in this case are the judicial records.

The Court set the matter for an evidentiary hearing. At the hearing, Defendant appeared pro se. Defendant was sworn, and he argued in support of his Petition.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

The Seventh Circuit requires that the Court apply a balancing test to determine whether to expunge judicial records:

"[I]f the dangers of unwarranted adverse consequences to the individual outweigh the public interest in maintenance of the records, then expunction is appropriate."

United States v. Flowers , 389 F.3d 737, 739 (7th Cir. 2004) (quoting Janik , 10 F.3d at 472). The public interest in maintaining accurate records is strong. Flowers , 389 F.3d at 739. "Records relating to a person's criminal conduct are vital tools to law enforcement." Id. In fact, there is a "long tradition of open proceedings and public records, which is the essence of a democratic society." Id.; see also, e.g., United States v. Linn , 513 F.2d 925, 927 (10th Cir. 1975) (noting that the Government has an interest in maintaining records to aid in general law enforcement and this interest must be balanced against the individual's right of privacy); Doe v. Webber , 606 F.2d 1226, 1231 n.15 (D.C. Cir. 1979) (except in cases where the charges are dismissed because no crime was ...


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