Winthrop Auxiliary Police Officer Bledar Naco (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) is now facing federal criminal charges for drug trafficking. He was arrested late last week and stands accused of dealing drugs out of his cruiser, in uniform and with his police-issued gun right by his side. The arrest was orchestrated by the FBI and police officers from Winthrop and Revere.
It was the result of a six-month joint investigation between federal and state officials.
The Defendant was arraigned in Federal District Court on Friday and is held pending a Detention Hearing at Federal Court.
“Even though it’s an auxiliary volunteer police officer, they’re still in uniform, they still wear a badge,” Police Chief Delehanty said. “So it tarnishes everyone’s badge.”
Perhaps we can discuss that issue another day. Today, as promised, let’s focus on search and seizure.
Attorney Sam’s Take On Expectations Of Privacy
Over the last couple of blogs, we have discussed cases which have search and seizure components to them. This is not unusual. The rules regarding search and seizure are usually involved in any arrest and, of course, any search.
The arrest of the Defendant, as well as the arrest of yesterday’s defendant (also a drug defendant) were the subjects of long-term investigations while our recent OUI defendant (who drove off of federal ground and thought, since the federal officer followed him his conviction should be thrown out) was sought only for a short while.
As I have mentioned, the rules surrounding searches and seizures can be complex. They also differ to some small degree in different jurisdictions. This is why I insist that you should engage the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney if you either are or are likely to be facing criminal charges. However, there are a few basic concepts which loom large in any discussions of search and seizure anywhere in the country.
Let’s discuss today search and seizure rules with regard to the seizing of property. As you may already know, if a search is found to be unconstitutional, then the evidence seized in the search cannot be entered as evidence against the particular defendant.
First of all, you should understand that this has to do with warrantless searches. In the case of a warrant, a judge or magistrate has already authorized the scope of a search. Therefore, assuming the search warrant is valid and the material seized was seized pursuant to the warrant…the seizure was presumably valid.
An “expectation of privacy” is necessary in order to have a valid claim with regard to a police search. You have to have an expectation of privacy with regard to whatever was searched and seized. For example, if Willie Weed is sitting on a park bench with his clear see-through four-ounce baggie full to the top of marijuana, there is no real expectation of privacy here. Anyone, including a police officer, could walk by and see it. However, just because the officer sees the bag and there would probably be enough to seize it, the officer does not now have free reign with Willie. If he wants to question Willie, other Constitutional laws will be involved as to whether any statements Willie makes can be admissible. However, that is a subject for another day.
I once handled a case wherein there had been an ongoing police drug investigation in Boston. There was no question as to whether or not the officers had the right to stop and inquire of a particular group of soon-to-be-defendants. In doing so, the officers also had the right to check the group for weapons. However, the searching went alittle far. An officer searched my female client and found some drugs inside her vaginal area. Clearly, since my client was dressed, the officer did not have the an argument that the search was simply to make sure there were no weapons that my client might use at any moment. The seizing of the drugs led to a statement from my client, which led to the seizure of other evidence.
Most importantly, my client had an expectation of privacy for what was inside her vagina. It does not get too much more private than that.
The court ended up suppressing what was found on my client and what was seized as a result of her statement (which was also suppressed). The result? The case was dismissed.
Let’s hit a few more of these concepts tomorrow.
To read the original story upon which this blog is based, please go to http://boston.cbslocal.com/2013/10/07/winthrop-auxiliary-police-officer-accused-of-dealing-drugs-out-of-cruiser/