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United States v. Yang

United States District Court, D. Nevada

January 25, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Plaintiff,
v.
JAY YANG Defendant.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO SUPPRESS [#23]

          RICHARD F. BOULWARE, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         Before the Court is Mr. Yang's Motion to Suppress Evidence [ECF No. 23]. The Court held an evidentiary hearing on this Motion over the course of several days. Based upon the record from the hearing, the Court denies the Motion to Suppress.

         II. Procedural History

         On May 9, 2016 a Criminal Complaint was filed against Jay Yang, the Defendant, charging him with one count of Theft or Receipt of Stolen Mail in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 1708 and one count of Felon in Possession of a Firearm in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). On July 27, 2016 a federal grand jury returned a Criminal Indictment against the Defendant charging him with one count of Theft or Receipt of Stolen Mail in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 1708 and one count of Felon in Possession of a Firearm in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). On October 5, 2016, Yang filed a Motion to Suppress. Evidentiary hearings were held on December 6, 2016, December 14, 2016 and January 4, 2017 on this Motion.

         III. Factual Findings

         The Court held evidentiary hearings on December 6, 2016, December 14, 2016 and January 4, 2017 regarding the motion to suppress. Based upon the Court's assessment of the credibility of the witnesses and evidence presented at this hearing the Court makes the following findings of fact.

         In April of 2016, the Postal Inspection Service received information that mail theft was occurring at the Summerlin Post Office located at 1611 Spring Gate Lane, Las Vegas, Nevada 89134. Upon review of surveillance video from surveillance cameras at the Summerlin Post Office, Postal Inspector Steele (hereinafter “Inspector Steele”) discovered a pattern of “fishing”- a method of stealing mail from a mailbox in which an individual lowers an object - which usually has adhesive or some grasping mechanism - into the box and then retrieves mail from the box by pulling it out with this object.

         From April 5, 2016 to April 8, 2016 surveillance video revealed a dark colored GMC Yukon (hereinafter “GMC Yukon”) approaching and stopping at the collection boxes at the Summerlin Post Office. The driver, who appeared to be a slim white male with short hair was seen exiting the vehicle, placing fishing devices into the collection boxes. On three of the four days for this period, this individual is seen repeatedly placing fishing devices into the collection box, removing mail from devices, and placing the mail into the GMC Yukon prior to leaving the area.

         On April 9, 2016, the GMC Yukon is seen with the same driver on surveillance video by Steele conducting the same “fishing” activities as seen on the previous days. On this day, the license plate for the GMC Yukon could be seen and was identified as California license plate 7RIV310.

         Upon conducting a DMV records check for the GMC Yukon and the license plate number, Inspector Steele learned the vehicle was registered to Prestige Motors, a car rental company located in Las Vegas, Nevada. The GMC Yukon had been reserved and rented on a third-party website, from April 2, 2016 to April 5, 2016 to Jay Yang (California ID ****4721). The credit card used for this transaction was subsequently revealed to be stolen. The GMC Yukon was scheduled to be returned to Prestige by April 5, 2016 at 10:48 a.m. When the vehicle was not returned at this time, Prestige placed it in stolen status but did not file a police report. Yang was not authorized by Prestige to use the GMC Yukon after April 5, 2016.

         On April 7, 2016, afternoon surveillance video in the area of the Summerlin Post Office revealed another vehicle, a Budget rental truck with Oklahoma license plate 2QD483 (hereinafter “Budget Truck”), with what appeared to be the same driver as the GMC Yukon engaging in fishing activity with a collection box. Inspector Steele contacted Budget Truck Rental and learned that the Budget Truck had been rented to Jay Yang (CA ID ****4721) for the time frame of March 14, 2016 through March 16, 2016. The Budget Truck had not been returned pursuant to the rental agreement on the designated return date in March. Yang was not authorized by Budget to use the Budget Truck after March 16, 2016.

         On April 13, 2016, Inspector Steele requested a vehicle detection report for the GMC Yukon through a commercial license plate-location database called LEARN. This database was created by and is maintained by a private company named Vigilant Solutions. The LEARN database receives license plate images and locations from digital cameras mounted on tow trucks, other vehicles used by collection/repossession companies and law enforcement vehicles. While these vehicles mounted with cameras drive around conducting whatever business they may have, the cameras are programmed to identify and photograph any license plate they encounter. Each vehicle-mounted camera set records about 30 license plate images per second. Not all photographed license plate images are retained by the onboard camera hardware and software. The system has functions which eliminate unreadable or potentially duplicate images among other limiting functions. Thus, only a portion of these images and the location where they were recorded are retained in the onboard system and then wirelessly transmitted to the main computer server(s) for the LEARN database.

         The LEARN database is not designed to continuously track a particular license plate or vehicle. A client using the database cannot request the continuous tracking of a particular license plate. A client cannot request that particular a license plate or vehicle be followed. While a particular license plate can be recorded multiples in a day, the number of times a particular license is observed and recorded depends upon its random interaction with a vehicle ...


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