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United States of America v. Ryan "Ben" Lehman

February 28, 2012

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
RYAN "BEN" LEHMAN,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael J. Seng United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DENYING IN PART AND GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS (ECF No. 9)

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On August 7, 2011, Yosemite National Park Law Enforcement Rangers cited Defendant Ryan Lehman for misappropriation of property (i.e., retaining in his possession a key to the Yosemite National Park Volunteer Office where he previously had worked) and trespassing at the Volunteer Office, both in violation of 36 Code of Federal Regulation ("C.F.R.") § 2.31(a)(1), and for camping without a permit in violation of 36 C.F.R. § 2.10(b)(8). (ECF No. 1.)

On August 17, 2011, Defendant was arrested for possession of controlled substances. (Psilocybin mushrooms and THC oil in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 844(a) and marijuana in violation of 36 C.F.R. § 2.35(b)(2)).

All six charges from both of these events were consolidated into an August 30, 2011, six count, First Amended Criminal Complaint in which the misappropriation was converted to a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 13, assimilating California Penal Code section 466 (unauthorized making of a key to a locked building). (ECF No. 3.)

Defendant was arraigned on, and pled "Not guilty" to, these charges on August 31, 2011.

On December 2, 2011, the Government filed a Second Amended Criminal Complaint identical to the First Amended Criminal Complaint except that the possession of Psilocybin mushrooms and THC oil were both charged as violations of 36 C.F.R. § 235(b)(2) instead of 21 U.S.C. § 844(a). (ECF No. 14.)

On November 21, 2011, Defendant filed this Motion to Suppress. (ECF No. 9.) The Government filed an opposition to the motion on December 1, 2011 (ECF No. 12) and Defendant filed a reply on December 8, 2011 (ECF No. 15). Counsel for both parties subsequently agreed at a status conference that no evidentiary hearing would be necessary to resolve the motion and it was submitted for decision

Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence is now before the Court for decision.

II. FACTS RELEVANT TO MOTION TO SUPPRESS*fn1

At the time the original, August 7, 2011, citations were issued to Defendant, certain unspecified items of Defendant's personal property remained in a backpacker's locker in a Yosemite Valley campground. On August 16, 2011, that property was impounded by Law Enforcement Rangers. Later communications between Defendant and law enforcement led to a meeting to enable Defendant to recover this property. That meeting took place on August 17, 2011, when Defendant met Law Enforcement Ranger Shannon Kupersmith at a Yosemite Valley campground registration office.*fn2

Once they met, it was agreed that Defendant could pull his car behind Ranger Kupersmith's to facilitate moving his property to his vehicle. Defendant and the ranger then began carrying boxes from the locker to Defendant's vehicle. While approaching an open back door of Defendant's vehicle to place a box on the back seat, Ranger Kupersmith "smelled the odor of unburned marijuana coming from within the car." The following sequence of events and communications then took place:

The ranger asked Defendant if there were drugs in the car. He said no.

The ranger said she could smell marijuana. Defendant said he just wanted to leave the ...


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