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United States v. Stokes

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

October 24, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
DARREN STOKES.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS

RICHARD G. STEARNS, District Judge.

In this puzzling motion, defendant Darren Stokes seeks to suppress evidence (the contents of unopened mail) that the government has committed not to offer at trial. At issue are several hundred envelopes addressed to a post office box in Brockton rented by Stokes from the U.S. Postal Service. The envelopes are not addressed to Stokes, but to professional associations (principally the American Dental Association), the identity of which Stokes allegedly appropriated to conduct a false invoicing scheme. The mail was withheld pursuant to injunctive orders issued by Judge Wolf, and consistent with these orders, no mail addressed to Stokes personally has ever been opened.[1] The government further represents that of the several hundred pieces of mail addressed to the associations, only eight envelopes have been opened, and these only after the Postal Service obtained the consent of the original sender. The relevant points can be made in short order.

While a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of personal mail, United States v. Van Leeuwen, 397 U.S. 249, 251 (1970), the same is not true with respect to the address to which it is sent or the identity of the sender. Cf. United States v. Forrester, 512 F.3d 500, 509-510 (9th Cir. 2008) (addresses of outgoing emails). And while a person may have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his rented postal box, he has no standing to challenge the seizure of letters addressed to someone else altogether, whether or not they are delivered to the box mistakenly or by criminal design. See United States v. Osunegbu, 822 F.2d, 472, 478-480, n.10 (5th Cir. 1987). Because Stokes has failed to identify any evidence that the government intends to use at trial that is even arguably subject to suppression, the court sees no reson to hold a hearing.

ORDER

For the foregoing reasons, the motion to suppress is DENIED.

SO ORDERED.


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