UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
March 4, 2009
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
ROSS CHARLES HACK, DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dean D. Pregerson United States District Judge
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO SUPPRESS [Motion filed on January 16, 2009]
Defendant Ross Hack ("Hack") is charged in a one-count indictment with knowingly and willfully making a false statement on a passport application with the intent to induce its issuance in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1542. Hack moves to suppress the passport applications that form the basis of this indictment. Hack argues that his replacement passport was illegally seized on February 7, 2008, and that federal officers only discovered the 1998 passport application documents as a result of that illegal seizure. Accordingly, Hack argues, the 1998 passport application documents are the tainted fruit of an illegal seizure, and must be suppressed. After reviewing the arguments and evidence submitted by the parties and holding an evidentiary hearing, the Court denies Hack's Motion.
A. Indictment and Allegations in This Case
On July 30, 1998, police investigating Hack's involvement in a double-homicide executed a warrant on Hack's Las Vegas, Nevada home; in connection with that search, police seized Hack's passport. On or about August 5, 1998, Hack went in person to the U.S. Passport Office in Los Angeles, California and executed a "Will Call" application for a passport (also known as a DSP-11 form). The Will Call process allows an applicant who reports in person to the U.S. Passport Office to obtain a passport on the same day that he submits his application. Hack also submitted a DSP-64, Statement Regarding Lost or Stolen Passport, dated August 5, 1998. In the DSP-64, Hack stated that he did not know how his passport was lost or stolen, but that he had last seen his passport about one week prior and discovered the loss on July 30, 1998. Hack was issued a Will Call passport, and traveled to Europe soon thereafter.
On March 12, 2008, the United States filed a criminal complaint against Hack, charging him with one count of making a false statement in an application for a passport, 18 U.S.C. § 1542. Complaint, Docket Entry No. 1 (March 12, 2008). The grand jury indicted Hack on March 21, 2008. Indictment, Docket Entry No. 11 (March 21, 2008).
B. Facts Underlying This Motion
Hack's argument for suppression fundamentally depends on the sequence of events in the federal investigation of the charges at issue here. There are two critical factual issues: (1) whether Hack's passport seized during the February 7, 2008 parole search for Melissa Hack and (2) whether the government discovered the 1998 passport application documents prior to the parole search. The Court discusses the evidence on each of these issues below.*fn1
1. February 7, 2008 Parole Search of Melissa Hack
On or about February 7, 2008, Melissa Hack, Defendant's sister, was detained by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officer and transported to the Investigative Services Division for an interview. Kelly Decl. ¶ 4. Melissa Hack was on parole. Deuel Decl. ¶ 4. Among the conditions of her parole were prohibitions on drinking alcohol, entering any bar or lounge for any purpose except employment, contact or association with gang members, and possession of gang paraphernalia. Opp., Ex. B; Merrick Decl. ¶ 4. Law enforcement officers interrogated her regarding a bar fight that allegedly occurred on January 26, 2008 at a white supremacist concert dubbed "Unity Fest." Law enforcement believed that concert was coordinated by Ross and Melissa Hack. Kelly Decl. ¶ 6. After Melissa Hack's interrogation, officers conducted a parole search of the Las Vegas residence. Merrick Decl. ¶ 4.*fn2
Hack testified that, when officers arrived at the Hack residence on February 7, 2008, Hack answered the door. Although the officers did not identify themselves, Hack saw his sister in handcuffs and understood that they were there to conduct a parole search because his sister had violated her parole. Two officers accompanied Hack upstairs to his bedroom to retrieve his shoes and a shirt, and spoke to him outside the house during the search. Hack testified that those officers stood at the edge of the room, but did not enter it. See also Merrick Decl. ¶ 7; Sanford Decl. ¶¶ 5, 7.
There is some dispute as to how the search proceeded. According to Jane Hack, Defendant's mother, search team members entered and exited Ross Hack's bedroom "multiple times." J. Hack Decl. ¶ 6. According to the Defendant, who was not inside the residence while the search was being conducted, his replacement passport was in his bedroom prior to the search and was not there afterward. R. Hack Decl. ¶ 4. The Defendant did not testify to the location of the passport in his declaration, except to say that it was in his bedroom. Id. In the sworn statement he gave on March 12, 2008, Hack stated that he kept his passport either on his desk or in the drawer of his night stand next to his bed, where he kept "all of [his] important identification as well as [his] wallet, car keys, and telephone." Hack Statement at 1. The record contains different indications as to when Hack discovered that his passport was missing. In his declaration, Hack testified that he discovered that his passport was missing on February 7, 2008, "[a]fter the search was completed and the officer/agents had left." Hack Decl. ¶ 4. According to his March 12 statement, Hack indicated that he first discovered his passport was missing on that day. Hack Statement at 1. In his live testimony, Hack stated that he had formed the belief that the police took his passport prior to March 12, 2008.
The officers present at the search deny that they searched Defendant's room for his passport. David Deuel, Melissa Hack's parole officer, did not observe anyone search any room besides Melissa Hack's room and the adjacent bathroom. Deuel Decl. ¶ 5. LVMPD Detective James Fink and Parole and Probation Sergeant Doug Manookian did not physically enter Hack's room and did not observe anyone else enter his room. Fink Decl. ¶ 8; Manookian Decl. ¶ 4. LVMPD Detective Fred Merrick escorted Hack to his room to obtain his sandals and ensure he did not retrieve a weapon before accompanying him outside while other officers performed the search. Merrick Decl. ¶ 7; see Sanford Decl. ¶¶ 5, 7. According to Merrick, he neither searched Defendant's room nor observed a passport in Defendant's room. Merrick Decl. ¶ 7; see Sanford Decl. ¶ 5, 7. FBI Agent Kelly and DSS Agent Young asserted in their declarations, and DSS Agent Partin asserted during the evidentiary hearing, that they were never told that any member of law enforcement seized Hack's passport during the parole search. Kelly Decl., ¶ 12; Young Decl. ¶ 14.
2. Federal Investigation into Defendant
According to the Government, prior to the parole search at the Las Vegas residence, it was investigating the involvement of both Ross and Melissa Hack in the January 26, 2008 Unity Fest assault. Kelly Decl. ¶¶ 6-9. FBI Special Agent Keith Kelly and United States Department of State Diplomatic Security Service ("DSS")*fn3 Special Agent John Young worked together on the Joint Terrorism Task Force ("JTTF"). According to Kelly, in the course of his investigations as a member of the Domestic Terrorism Section of the JTTF, he learned that the violence of the Hammerskin Nation, a neo-Nazi skinhead gang, had been on the rise in Las Vegas throughout 2007. Kelly Decl. ¶¶ 3-4. As part of his investigation into the activities of the Hammerskin Nation, he learned that Ross Hack was a prominent member of the Las Vegas chapter. Id. ¶ 5. He further learned that, in 1998, while Hack was considered a suspect in a double-homicide, he traveled to Europe, despite the fact that LVMPD had seized his passport. Id. Kelly testified that he first learned of Hack at some point in 2007, but believed Hack was out of the country until January 2008 and had not investigated Hack's passport until that time. Kelly's declaration does not make clear when Kelly learned of the search and seizure regarding the 1998 investigation. See Kelly Decl. ¶ 5. In oral testimony, however, Kelly clarified that he did not learn about the 1998 search and seizure until after the Unity Fest incident.
On February 1, 2008, while investigating the Unity Fest assault, Kelly testified that he met with LVMPD detectives from the violent Crimes Unit and the Gang Unit, which participated in surveillance of Unity Fest. Id. ¶ 7. At that meeting, Kelly learned that Defendant was surveilled assisting the attacker in leaving the area after the Unity Fest assault. Id. Kelly's earlier investigation led him to believe that Melissa Hack was an organizer for Unity Fest. Id. ¶ 6. On February 6, 2008, Kelly attended another meeting with LVMPD detectives as well as Parole and Probation, where investigators discussed executing a parole search on Melissa Hack. Id. ¶ 8.
Kelly testified that, on the morning of February 7, 2008, he contacted DSS Agent Young and requested a records check on the date that Hack returned the United States. Id. ¶ 9; Young Decl. ¶¶ 5-7; see Compl., Partin Aff. ¶ 3; Mot., Ex. 4 at 8:13-17. Young is the DSS agent on the JTTF. According to Kelly and Young, the 1998 passport filing was discovered during that check and related discussion. Kelly Decl. ¶ 9; Young Decl. ¶¶ 5-7; Compl., Partin Aff. ¶¶ 5-6. According to Agent Young, the last time he saved the passport application file was 9:36 a.m. on Thursday, February 7, 2008. Young Decl. ¶ 9. Young testified at the evidentiary hearing that he did not remember hearing of Ross Hack until he was asked to look at when Hack returned to the United States.
Kelly testified in his declaration that, knowing that a parole search was scheduled for later that day, he informed LVMPD Detective Merrick that he believed Hack had committed passport fraud. Kelly Decl. ¶ 10. He also testified that he contacted the United States Attorney's Office in Las Vegas to seek authorization to make a probable cause arrest of the defendant on that day, but the U.S. Attorney did not authorize an arrest on that day. Id.
During the evidentiary hearing, Young testified that, between February 7 and March 10, he had several conversations with the U.S. Attorney's office in Las Vegas about the prosecution of Hack for the 1998 application. Young testified that, between February 7 and March 10, he and the AUSA were investigating the potential grounds for which they could bring charges against Hack for passport fraud under § 1542 and related sections. Young testified that the U.S. Attorney in Las Vegas had requested that Young interview Mandie Abels, who was present in 1998 when the Las Vegas police seized Hack's passport. At least one of the other crimes, Young testified, would require pulling in people from overseas. Because they thought Hack might be leaving soon, Young and the U.S. Attorney thought that § 1542 was the easiest prosecution to bring, and decided to go forward with that charge. Young further testified that on March 10, 2008, the AUSA told him that a § 1542 violation would need to be prosecuted in Los Angeles, the place where the passport application was submitted. Young Decl. ¶ 10. At that time, Young referred the case to the Los Angeles DSS Office, specifically to Special Agent Paul Montuori. Id.*fn4
Paul Montuori testified that, after the case was referred to him by Young, he went to Fresno to interview Mandie Abels, who was present during the 1998 search and seizure at Hack's residence. Montuori testified that, when Abels suggested he talk to Hack, Montuori gave Abels his card and told her to have Hack contact him. Hack left a message on Montuori's voicemail while Montuori was driving back to Los Angeles from Fresno. On that message, Hack said the following:
Paul this is Ross Hack, um you talked to Mandie today about uh, about my passport being taken, you know and actually there is something even more interesting about that, which if you can recall because I had another passport taken, probably by them again, because they were in my house, uh, investigating my sister for a parole violation and uh, you know I'm sure they took that too. You know, anyway and I leave tomorrow, you know, this is killing me.
Call 1. When Montuori called Hack back, he apparently told Hack that Hack could come down to the DSS office in Los Angeles and they could issue one. Hack had plans to leave for Europe the next day, and eventually decided to fly to Los Angeles.
Hack arrived at the DSS office in Los Angeles on March 12, 2008. At the DSS office, Hack made two statements: one about the seizure of his passport in 1998, see Opp. Ex. A, and one about his missing passport after the parole search in 2008. After making these statements, Hack was arrested. The criminal complaint was also filed on March 12, 2008. The Indictment was filed on March 21, 2008. The First Superseding Indictment was filed on June 24, 2008.
On March 14, 2008, at his pre-indictment arraignment, Hack was ordered to permanent detention. See Docket Entry Nos. 5-7, 9. On March 18, 2008, Hack filed an Application for Review/ Reconsideration of the March 14, 2008 order. Bond and conditions of release were set on March 19, 2008. On March 21, 2008, DSS Special Agent Young submitted a request for revocation of defendant's 1998 passport and also requested that defendant's passport be placed on lookout, "informing Customs and Border Patrol that defendant possessed a fraudulent passport that was invalid and should be detained if he attempted to use it." Young Decl. ¶¶ 11-12. This lookout was entered on March 24, 2008. A post-indictment arraignment was held on March 31, 2008.
Hack seeks to suppress two types of documents. First, Hack argues that law enforcement officers went beyond the legal scope of their February 7, 2008 parole search and that they illegally seized his replacement passport during the course of that search. Second, Hack argues that the 1998 passport records were the fruit of this illegal seizure, and therefore must be suppressed. As § 1542 does not require the replacement passport, the heart of Hack's motion is the suppression of the application documents; however, his theory relies on the illegal seizure of the replacement passport.
A. Search of the House and Alleged Seizure of the Replacement Passport
First, Hack argues that his replacement passport should be suppressed because the February 2008 search of Hack's bedroom and alleged seizure of his passport at that time exceeded the scope of the law enforcement agents' authority to conduct a parole search fo Melissa Hack and her belongings. The Government contends that there was no seizure of his replacement passport during the February 7, 2008 search, and that it is not in possession of Hack's replacement passport.
The parties do not dispute that law enforcement's presence in the Hack residence on February 7, 2008 was in connection with a parole search for Melissa Hack, and that there was no warrant to search the Defendant's belongings. Likewise, the parties appear to agree on the law that governs that parole search. Where parole and probation searches are concerned, a parolee's reasonable expectation of privacy is determined by the terms and conditions of his or her parole. Samson v. California, 547 U.S. 843, 850-52 (2006). Whether a particular parole search is reasonable is determined by examining the totality of the circumstances. United States v. Knights, 534 U.S. 112, 121 (1996). The reasonableness of the scope of a probation search is a mixed question of law and fact. United States v. Davis, 932 F.2d 752, 756 (9th Cir. 1991). At the very least, an officer must have a reasonable suspicion that the thing or place searched is within the ownership, possession, or control, of the individual. Id. at 758-59. The United States does not contest Hack's argument that (1) the officers conducting the parole search of Melissa Hack would not have been legally authorized to enter Hack's room during that search and (2) seizing his passport during that search would have been illegal.
This motion presents two competing factual theories. The Government argues that Hack has not shown that any officer took his passport, and the Government believes Hack still has his passport. The Government's witnesses have uniformly testified that they were unaware of any seizure of Hack's passport on February 7, 2008. Additionally, the Government witnesses uniformly testified that they saw no officer enter Hack's room, except to accompany him to retrieve his sandals and shirt. Rather, the Government contends that there was a concurrent federal investigation into Hack and that the 1998 passport application documents were discovered in connection with the federal side of the investigation.*fn5 The Government questions whether Hack in fact still has his passport. The Government points to Hack's representation that, despite testifying that he discovered early on that the passport had been taken, he did not: (1) attempt to obtain a new passport until March 12, 2008, the day before he was scheduled to leave for Europe (and only after he was told to call Agent Montuori) or (2) call Detective Merrick to complain that police had taken his passport.
Hack does not argue that any person -- including his sister or mother -- saw an officer take Hack's passport. Rather, Hack argues that circumstantial evidence strongly suggests that the passport was indeed taken during the search. First, Hack himself testified that he knew that he had the passport before the search and it was gone after the search. Second, Hack points to the testimony of his mother, who testified by declaration that she saw "members of the search team enter, remain in and then . . . exit Ross Hack's bedroom multiple times." J. Hack Decl. ¶ 6.*fn6 Third, Hack notes that his actions on March 12, 2008 in contacting Agent Montuori and submitting the sworn statement about the February 7, 2008 parole search were consistent with his testimony that he did not have the passport and intended to get a new one. Finally, and more broadly, Hack argues that the familiarity of the police with Hack supports his theory because the police would have been motivated to find anything they could on him. In fact, Hack argues, the parole search of Melissa Hack was merely a pretext for finding out information on Ross Hack.
In light of the evidence, the parties' conflicting theories about whether the passport was in fact seized on February 7 by Las Vegas law enforcement leave at least some uncertainty as to the exact course of events. Multiple Government witnesses testified that they did not know of any passport that was taken; indeed, some testified that they were unaware that Hack had a passport. Hack's testimony and declarations contained some inconsistencies as to when exactly he discovered the passport was missing and where it was located. Hack's actions on March 12, 2008 support an inference in either direction. Additionally, the federal and state interest in Hack prior to the parole search may support Hack's theory (though it also supports the Government's theory that it discovered the passport documents independently).*fn7 FBI Special Agent Kelly identified Hack's potential flight as a particular concern: Agent Kelly was in communication with the U.S. Attorney's Office regarding authority to arrest Hack for passport fraud because he was considered a flight risk. Kelly Decl. ¶ 10. Agent Kelly was in contact with at least one LVMPD detective who would be at the parole search, though neither he nor any other federal agent was at the search. The Court does not find Hack's argument regarding the posting of bond persuasive.
The Government has repeatedly represented that it does not have Hack's replacement passport; there is therefore no passport to suppress. With respect to whether the replacement passport was illegally seized, while the Court is not inclined to find that the circumstantial evidence undermines the sworn testimony of multiple law enforcement officers, the Court does not consider Hack's suggestion that Las Vegas law enforcement may have taken his passport during the February 7 parole search to be entirely implausible. Because of the Court's finding below, however, the Court ultimately need not decide whether the replacement passport was actually seized.
B. Passport Application Documents
Second, Hack argues that DSS obtained the passport application documents as a result of the illegal passport seizure and therefore the application documents must be suppressed as fruit of the poisonous tree. Because the government need not use any seized passport to prove the crime at issue here, see U.S. v. SuarezRosario, 237 F.3d 1164, 1167 (9th Cir. 2001) ("[T]he crime is complete when one makes a statement one knows is true to procure a passport." (internal quotation marks omitted)), the suppression of the passport application documents is the heart of Hack's motion to dismiss. The Government contends (in the alternative) that DSS obtained the passport application forms independent of any alleged seizure, that it would have inevitably discovered their existence because of the ongoing investigation, and that their discovery was too attenuated any the seizure by local officers. If the Court had found above that there was no illegal seizure, the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine would be inapplicable. The Court finds that the passport application documents were not discovered as a result of the seizure, but rather through an independent source. Accordingly, even if the Court were to find that Hack's passport was illegally seized by Las Vegas law enforcement, suppression of the passport application documents would be inappropriate. The Court does not address the Government's other theories.
As a general rule, where evidence is obtained as a result of an illegal search or seizure, that evidence must be excluded as "fruit of the poisonous tree." See Murray v. U.S., 487 U.S. 533, 536-37 (1988) ("Beyond [tangible materials seized unlawfully and testimony concerning knowledge acquired during an unlawful search], the exclusionary rule also prohibits the introduction of derivative evidence, both tangible and testimonial, that is the product of the primary evidence, or that is otherwise acquired as an indirect result of the unlawful search, up to the point at which the connection with the unlawful search becomes so attenuated as to dissipate the taint." (internal quotation marks omitted)); United States v. Washington, 490 F.3d 765, 774 (9th Cir. 2004). To determine whether evidence is derivative "fruit" that must be suppressed, courts often analyze how attenuated the discovery of the evidence was to the "poisonous" constitutional violation. See Murray, 487 U.S. at 537; United States v. Washington, 387 F.3d 1060, 1072-73 (9th Cir. 2004).
Even where there was a constitutional violation, evidence will not be considered tainted "fruit" when it falls under the "independent source" doctrine. The independent source exception "allows admission of evidence that is actually found by legal means through sources unrelated to the [illegal] search." U.S. v. $493,850.00 in U.S. Currency, 518 F.3d 1159, 1165 (9th Cir. 2008); see also U.S. v. Ankeny, 502 F.3d 829, 835 n.2 (9th Cir. 2007) (the independent source doctrine "provides that evidence discovered by independent legal means should not be suppressed even though there was an illegal search as well"). For example, "where an unlawful entry has given investigators knowledge of facts x and y, but fact z has been learned by other means, fact z can be said to be admissible because derived from an independent source." Murray, 487 U.S. at 538.
The Government asserts that it was concurrently investigating Hack and that, in the course of that concurrent investigation, it discovered the passport application documents. FBI Special Agent Kelly testified that, as part of his JTTF duties, he and the LVMPD were investigating Hack's re-emergence onto the Las Vegas white supremacist scene. At the evidentiary hearing, Kelly testified that he had heard of Ross Hack at some point during 2007, but that, prior to January 2008, he believed that Ross Hack was still overseas. Kelly also testified that he had not heard about the 1998 search of Ross Hack's house until after the investigation of the Unity Fest incident was underway.
Kelly testified that in mid-January, he learned that the Hammerskins were planning a Unity Fest concert to be held on January 26, 2008 and met with LVMPD detectives to coordinate investigation into the event. Kelly Decl. ¶ 6. His investigation led him to believe that Melissa Hack was an organizer of the event. Id. Kelly testified that on February 1, 2008, he met with LVMPD detectives who participated in surveillance of Unity Fest to share information. Id. ¶ 7. Kelly further testified that he discussed the re-emergence of Hack on the Hammerskin scene with LVMPD detectives at the February 1 meeting. Id. On February 6, 2008, Kelly attended another meeting with LVMPD detectives and Parole & Probation, where they discussed executing a parole search on Melissa Hack. Id. ¶ 8. According to Kelly, on the morning of February 7, 2008, he contacted his JTTF colleague, DSS Special Agent John Young and requested a records check on the date the defendant returned to the United States. Id. ¶ 9. At the evidentiary hearing, Young testified that he had not heard of Ross Hack prior to this request, and Kelly testified at the hearing that he had not brought Young into the case until that time. Young and Kelly testified that the 1998 passport applications were discovered during this investigation. Young testified that he saved the passport applications to his computer. He makes a practice of doing this when it appears that the matter will be part of a case. His computer shows a "modified date" for the 1998 passport application of February 7, 2008 at 9:36:16 AM.*fn8 It is undisputed that the parole search took place in the afternoon.
Kelly also testified that, after discovering the 1998 passport application documents, he called Detective Merrick of the LVMPD to inform him that Kelly believed Hack had committed passport fraud. Kelly Decl. ¶ 10. Kelly testified that he was aware that the parole search of the Hack residence was scheduled for later that day. Id. He then contacted the Assistant United States Attorney in Las Vegas for a legal opinion as to whether there was probable cause to arrest Hack at the time of the parole search because he considered Hack a flight risk. Id. The AUSA wanted to investigate the case further and did not authorize Hack's arrest at that time. Id.
Hack's attack on the Government's chronology relies on (1) the accusation that Young and Kelly were committing perjury when submitting their declarations and testifying in person*fn9 and (2) inferences from circumstantial evidence. First, Hack emphasizes what he characterizes as a lack of corroboration as to the timing of the investigation -- and, in particular, a lack of corroboration as to when DSS Agent Young first viewed the passport applications. At oral argument, Hack suggested that Young could have changed the time and date settings on his computer. Hack also noted that FBI Agent Kelly apparently does not have a specific record memorializing the conversation he had with Agent Young or with the Las Vegas AUSA. To lend additional support to his contention that the federal agents were giving perjured testimony as to the timing of the federal investigation, Hack points to circumstantial evidence. Hack questions the timing of the referral to Los Angeles; in particular, he suggests that it should not have taken over a month to determine that this case needed to be prosecuted in Los Angeles, where the application for the replacement passport was submitted. (Hack also relies on the evidence and arguments described above with respect to the seizure of the passport.)
Even if law enforcement present at the Hack residence during the parole search in fact seized Hack's passport, the Court finds credible the testimony from DSS Agent Young and FBI Agent Kelly as to the chronological course of the federal investigation. Hack has presented no evidence undermining the assertion fact that the investigation into Hack was ongoing prior to February 7, 2008.*fn10
While the federal agents arguably could have kept or presented more detailed records, nothing in either agent's testimony on cross-examination undermined the veracity of his representations as to when the investigation took place.
The Court is not persuaded that either of the two issues Hack raises calls the agents' testimony into question. Hack appears to suggest that the timing of the application download is suspiciously convenient in that it purportedly occurred just hours before the parole search. The Court does not find that timing problematic. There has been no challenge to the representation that the Unity Fest concert took place on January 26, 2008. Agent Kelly testified that there were meetings on February 1 and 6 with LVMPD, and that the parole search was discussed at the February 6 meeting. Kelly Decl. ¶¶ 7-8. Kelly also testified that he considered Hack a flight risk. Id. ¶ 10. LVMPD Detective Merrick testified at the evidentiary hearing that he had learned during the course of an investigation that Hack was planning to leave the area. In light of the narrative of the investigation provided by Agent Kelly, the Court does not find the timing suspicious: it is plausible that, after the meeting with LVMPD on February 6, the investigation into Hack would proceed quickly. Hack has not presented evidence that suggests otherwise. Hack also suggests that the one-month delay between February 7, 2008, when the agents discovered the alleged fraud, and March 10, 2008, when the AUSA advised Agent Young that the case needed to be prosecuted in Los Angeles, is suspiciously long for the apparent course of events. The Court does not consider that delay suspicious. Agent Young explained during cross-examination at the evidentiary hearing that, during that one-month period, he and the AUSA were exploring different potential charges related to passport fraud, and that part of that investigation required interviewing Mandie Abels. While the one-month delay may also be consistent with Hack's proposed version of events, it does not cast doubt on the veracity of Agent Young's or Agent Kelly's testimony.
Overall, the Court finds the Government's chronology as to the federal investigation credible. Agents Kelly and Young discussed Hack's presence in the United States and discovered his passport application documents prior to the parole search, which indisputably occurred on the afternoon of February 7. Based on that chronology, there was no causal link between the alleged seizure of the replacement passport and the discovery of the passport applications. See $493,850.00 in U.S. Currency, 518 F.3d at 1165 ("The information at issue here is not a fruit of the poisonous tree because it was not discovered subsequent to the illegal seizure . . . nor was it derived in any way from the illegal seizure[.] . . . The information was learned from pre-existing, unrelated investigations."). Accordingly, even if the LVMPD seized Hack's passport, the passport application documents had an independent source, and the Motion to Suppress must be denied.*fn11
For the foregoing reasons, the Court denies Hack's Motion to Suppress in full.
IT IS SO ORDERED.