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Wey: When Search Warrants Go Wrong

Publisher: Law360
September 26, 2017
Day Pitney Author(s) Daniel E. Wenner

Dan Wenner authored an article, "Wey: When Search Warrants Go Wrong," for Law360. The article uses the case of United States v. Benjamin Wey to discuss how overzealous law enforcement agents can jeopardize a prosecution by exceeding the scope of a warrant. A grand jury indicted Wey for securities fraud and related charges in 2015, alleging that he and others engaged in a stock manipulation scheme involving U.S.-based over-the-counter-traded shell companies. A warrant was issued to search Wey's consulting firm, but the agents executing that warrant "seized everything in sight," rather than just documents that were within the scope of the warrant. Wey filed a motion to supress, and U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan suppressed all of the evidence seized by the government, leading to all charges being dismissed against Wey. The case, Wenner writes, provides "a useful example of how government searches that appear to be proper bases on 'the trappings' of propriety - a warrant, an affidavit, good faith - can actually be far from it." In conclusion, Wenner reminds practitioners to scrutinize warrants to make sure the rules were followed. For example, "Just because the warrant authorized the seizure of electronic material does not give the government carte blanche to search it indiscriminately for whatever it thinks might be useful in the prosecution."

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