7th Circuit confirms search warrant containing false information
The 7e The Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the Northern Indiana District Court that a federal agent’s explanations were plausible and that he was “at worst, negligent …” when he obtained a warrant. search by telling a trial judge that a supervised drug delivery would the magistrate judge the illegal drugs had been recovered while no drugs had ever been delivered or recovered.
Jonathan Goehring, a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security, obtained a search warrant for a house in Fort Wayne where Edwin Calligan had stayed. He told the district court investigating judge in part that his intention was to effect a controlled delivery of a package containing 5F-ADB, a synthetic cannabinoid and a controlled substance.
The examining magistrate issued the warrant which included the condition that the search take place during the day no later than June 30, 2017. The planned delivery of the package was not mentioned.
The police did deliver the package, but the drugs had been replaced with brown sugar and flour. After Calligan accepted the delivery, officers executed the warrant and found money, a gun, and a notebook containing both the package tracking number and a recipe to turn the raw 5F-ADB into a consumable product.
In the return warrant, Goehring incorrectly reported that the police recovered the original contents of the 5F-ADB package.
Calligan was charged with Possession of a Firearm as a Criminal, Importing a Controlled Substance and Attempting to Distribute a Controlled Substance. He requested the deletion of the evidence, arguing in one of his petitions that Goehring’s tenure was anticipated and that, as the “trigger condition” for probable cause, the delivery of 5F-ADB did not have been satisfied, the search was outside the scope of the warrant.
At an evidence hearing, Goehring testified that he did not apply for an advance warrant in part because he believed there was probable cause without supervised delivery. In addition, he told the court that he only mentioned the delivery because he predicted it would be done as part of the execution of the warrant. As for the incorrect information on the return warrant, he said it was a mistake.
The Northern Indiana District Court suspended the search, in part because there was probable cause without the delivery of the drugs.
In United States of America v. Edwin Calligan, 20-1817, the 7the Asserted circuit. The panel agreed that there was a “likelihood” that the house where Calligan appeared to reside contained evidence of drug crimes.
Calligan also claimed that Goehring knowingly made false statements to obtain the warrant and then intended to deceive the investigating judge by incorrectly stating on the return warrant that the drugs had been recovered. However, the Court of Appeal considered that this argument was unfounded.
“… to receive a hearing on this point, Calligan had to make an initial demonstration that Constable Goehring’s incorrect prediction was material to the warrant,” Judge Amy St. Eve wrote for the panel, citing United States v. Clark, 935 F.3d 558, 563 (7th Cir. 2019). “He didn’t. The alleged misrepresentation would not have altered the trial judge’s determination of probable cause; as we have explained, there was probable cause for the research without the delivery of the actual drugs. And Constable Goehring erred in completing the warrant report after the trial judge made his initial finding on probable cause. As such, it does not affect the validity of the warrant. Nor is it convincing evidence of anything infamous on Agent Goehring’s part.