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United States of America v. Nathan Lee Seaux

August 23, 2012

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NATHAN LEE SEAUX, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hayes, Judge:

ORDER

The matter before the Court is the motion to suppress statements filed by the Defendant Nathan Lee Seaux. (ECF No. 18).

BACKGROUND FACTS

On December 22, 2011, the grand jury returned an indictment charging that "on or about May 4, 2010," the Defendant stole "approximately $13,325.08 worth of cash and checks and other commercial paper" from the United States Postal Service in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1707. (ECF No. 1 at 1).

On August 23, 2010, Defendant was employed by the United States Postal Service at the Yuma Main Office in Arizona. (ECF No. 26-2 at 36). Defendant was not scheduled to work on that day and received a telephone call on his cellular phone from Sergio Velasco, Post Master for the Yuma Main Office. Id. Velasco was Defendant's direct supervisor. Id. at 37. Velasco told Defendant that the postal inspectors were in the office waiting for him. Id. at 36.

Defendant testified that Velasco told him that "I had to come to the post office to answer some questions." Id. at 36.

Defendant arrived at the Yuma Post Office and Velasco led him to a small room where Special Agents Eric Thomas and Marco Morales of the United States Postal Service Office of the Inspector General were waiting. Id. at 40-41. Velasco left Defendant with Agent Thomas and Agent Morales. Id. at 40. Agent Thomas motioned for Defendant to sit down and introduced himself. Id. at 40, 59. Agent Thomas was wearing street clothes with a gun holstered to his hip. Id. at 41. Agent Morales was wearing street clothes and was not visibly armed. Id. at 41. Agent Thomas testified that the Defendant "sat in a chair, closest to the door, but near us as well." Id. at 6. Agent Thomas testified that "this is my standard practice [. . .] I don't want anyone to believe that they are not free to leave, so I have them sit closest to the door." Id. The door to the room was closed but not locked. Id. Agent Thomas testified that the doorway was not obstructed on either side. Id. at 7. Agent Thomas testified that the agents did not threaten or handcuff the Defendant. Id. at 7. Agent Thomas testified that the agents did not draw their weapons at any point during the interview. Id. Agent Thomas testified that the interview was not recorded. Id. at 26.

Agent Thomas advised the Defendant that he was there to talk "about the shortages at the Hillcrest Post Office" and that he had "some questions for [the Defendant]." Id. at 23, 41. Agent Thomas asked the Defendant about his military background, his family and his interest in football. Id. at 41-42. Agent Thomas testified that this was "small talk" unrelated to the investigation and not meant to be threatening in any manner. Id. at 9. Agent Thomas testified that he informed the Defendant that the requested interview "was voluntary and that he was free to leave at any time." Id. at 7. Agent Thomas testified that he did not give the Defendant a Garrity*fn1 advisal at any time before or during the interview. Id. at 21. Agent Thomas testified that he did not "mention anything about his job, anything like that" or that Defendant would be fired if he refused to answer questions. Id. at 22.

Agent Thomas testified that he informed the Defendant of his Miranda rights; that Defendant read the rights aloud from a pre-printed form, signed and dated the form; and that Defendant stated orally that he understood his rights. Id. at 10, 42. Defendant dated the Miranda form and indicated the time as "11:52 a.m." (Exhibit 21). Defendant subsequently wrote and signed a statement. (Exhibit 22). Defendant dated the statement and indicated the time as "1:30 p.m." Id.

Defendant testified that he was not given his Miranda rights prior to writing the statement. (ECF No. 26-2 at 43). Defendant testified that he did not read and sign the Miranda form until after he had already written and signed his statement. Id. at 43-44. Defendant testified that Agent Thomas told him the time to write down on the Miranda form and on his statement and testified that "whatever [Agent Thomas] told me to do, that is what I did." Id. at 48. Defendant testified that he is forty years old but had "never signed [. . .] a document that says date and time before." Id.

Defendant testified that he was never given a Garrity warning. Id. at 55. Defendant testified that he believed that Velasco was giving him "directions" to come in to the office and speak with the Postal Inspector. Id. at 37. Defendant stated that he was told in training thirteen years ago that "you have to answer [Postal Inspectors'] questions or you could be subject to being fired." Id. at 38-39. Defendant testified that "[Velasco] never stated" that he would be subjected to disciplinary action if he refused to submit to questioning. Id. at 45.

Defendant testified that the small talk at the onset "put me on edge." Id. at 42. Defendant testified that a file cabinet was "blocking" the doorway. Id. at 59. Defendant testified that "I would have to walk around to get out of the room is what I meant, like blocking." Id. at 59. Defendant testified that he was not handcuffed at any point during the questioning and left the interview on his own. Id. at 42, 45.

Agent Thomas testified that he has "been in law enforcement for 21 years, been an agent for going on 10 years." Id. at 62. Agent Thomas testified that he has never interviewed a suspect without first advising the person of his or her Miranda rights. Id. Agent Thomas testified that "[m]aybe about 40 minutes or so, 40 to 45 minutes approximately" elapsed between the time that the Defendant signedthe Miranda form and the time that the Defendant wrote ...


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