Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Grotke

March 10, 1983

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
RONALD GROTKE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Defendant was convicted in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, Charles L. Brieant, J., of having made false material statements to the United States Customs service in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 (1976). Affirmed.

Author: Waterman

Before:

WATERMAN, PIERCE and WINTER, Circuit Judges.

WATERMAN, Circuit Judge:

This is an appeal from a judgment of conviction and an unreported decision of the Honorable Charles L. Brieant, United States District Judge, sitting by designation in the United States District Court, Western District of New York. Appellant Ronald Grotke was charged in an indictment filed January 20, 1982, with having made false material statements to the United States Customs Service in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 (1976).*fn1 Grotke was tried before Judge Brieant and a jury. The jury returned a verdict of guilty, and on March 11, 1982 Grotke moved for an order granting a new trial pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 33 and, alternatively, for a judgment of acquittal pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P.29(c). Judge Brieant, in a decision dated March 31, 1982, denied these motions, and in so doing affirmed an earlier denial of a motion to suppress evidence.

On December 2, 1981 Grotke sought entry into the United States at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, New York. He was a passenger in a car rented and driven by a friend. After routine questioning by primary inspectors at the Peace Bridge, at which time he told a primary inspector that he had been in Canada for a couple of hours and that he had a case of beer to declare, Grotke and his friend were referred to the secondary inspection area for further questioning.

At the secondary inspection area Inspector Joseph Coughlin questioned Grotke as to his citizenship, employment, recent whereabouts in Canada, and whether he had bought or acquired anything in Canada. Grotke again stated that he was returning from Canada after being at the King Edward Hotel, in Fort Erie, Ontario, for only a few hours. Inspector Coughlin, along with Inspectors O'Scier and Alexander, asked him to step into the Customs Office to fill out Form 6059-B, which is a customs declaration form. He filled out this form and answered "no" to question 11, the currency question.*fn2

After Grotke had filled out the form he and his friend were seated on benches in the inspection area while Inspector Coughlin searched the car's trunk and Inspector O'Scier searched the car's interior. Inspector Coughlin did not find anything significant in the trunk, but Inspector O'Scier did find, under the floor mat on the front passenger side, the remains of a smoked marijuana cigarette, commonly called a "roach."*fn3

After this discovery, Inspector Coughlin asked Grotke to step into the Customs Office in order to conduct a pocket search for the possibility of drugs. Inspector Coughlin asked him to remove the coat which he was wearing, and, in so doing, Inspector Coughlin noticed a "Made in Canada" label inside the coat. Inspector Coughlin then asked him about this coat, and he initially stated that he had purchased it on an earlier trip to Canada, but had not paid a duty on it. Inspector Coughlin questioned him further on this, and Grotke then admitted that he had purchased it on this trip.

At this point Inspector Coughlin doubted Grotke's statement that he had been in Canada only a few hours, at the King Edward Hotel. In any event, Inspector Coughlin proceeded to conduct a pocket search of him to see if any drugs or a receipt for the coat could be found. This entailed searching the pockets of the coat and the jeans which Grotke was wearing. Since these jeans were so-called "designer jeans," which are very tight fitting, Inspector Coughlin asked him to unbutton his fly so as to loosen the jeans in order to turn the pockets inside out. He was also subjected to a "pat-down" search. At this point nothing further had been found. Next, Inspector Coughlin asked Grotke to take off the cowboy boots he was wearing. He complied with this request, and as he was taking off his left boot a brown plastic bag containing $19,000 in U.S. currency fell out.

Grotke was subsequently arrested, given Miranda warnings, and subjected to a full strip search.This search, and another search of the car revealed nothing.

I. The Motion to Suppress

Grotke challenges Judge Brieant's order denying his motion to suppress the money found in his boot. He claims that the money was found as a result of a strip search and thus required reasonable suspicion.

It is well settled that border searches of luggage and personal belongings may be conducted without a search warrant and without regard to considerations of probable cause. United States v. Ramsey, 431 U.S. 606, 52 L. Ed. 2d 617, 97 S. Ct. 1972 (1977). This includes searches of a person's outer clothing and the contents of a purse, wallet or pockets. See Henderson v. United States, 390 F.2d 805, 808 (9th Cir. 1967); United States v. Carter, 592 F.2d 402, 405 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 441 U.S. 908, 99 S. Ct. 2001, 60 L. Ed. 2d 378 (1979). However, greater instrusions into a person's privacy, such as strip searches, require "reasonable suspicion" on the part of the border official. The standard is that "[i]n each case, reasonableness is determined by weighing the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.