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United States v. Veach

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

December 21, 2017

DOUGLAS M. VEACH, Defendant.



         This cause is before the Court on Defendant Douglas Veach's Motion to Suppress Evidence (Dkt. No. 85). Specifically, Veach seeks to suppress the evidence that was seized on August 6, 2015. The Court held an evidentiary hearing on Veach's motion on November 29, 2017. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12(d), the Court now states its findings and conclusions. For the reasons explained herein, Veach's Motion to Suppress Evidence is DENIED.


         On August 6, 2015, Douglas Veach was arrested by detectives in Putnam County, Indiana. Two issues are before the Court: (1) whether there was a valid warrant for Veach's arrest, and (2) whether the search of a duffel bag was unconstitutional. At the evidentiary hearing held by the Court, the Government presented testimony from two witnesses and introduced six exhibits.

         A. The Warrant

         Christopher Mayhugh, a state parole agent with the Indiana Department of Correction in Marion County, testified at the hearing. Mayhugh has been a parole agent for adult offenders since 2006, and he currently is assigned to Veach's case. Veach's former parole agent was Brian Matthys, but Veach's case was transferred to Mayhugh because of Veach's pending criminal cases in federal and state court.

         Mayhugh explained that when a parolee is arrested for a new case or a new criminal case is filed against a parolee, a report and request for a warrant is sent to the Indiana Parole Board (“Board”).[1] The report includes the initial parole violation, which consists of the court case if it is available, or, if the case is not available, the arresting officer's report or probable cause affidavit. The Board reviews the report and request to see if a case has been filed and how serious the allegations are. If the Board determines that a warrant should issue, the Board sends a warrant to the parole agent.

         If the parolee is being held in jail, the parole agent sends the warrant to the jail where the parolee is being held. The parole agent in the county where the parolee is being held will serve the warrant on the parolee. A copy of the warrant is given to the jail. After the warrant is lodged, the parole agent will clear the warrant from the National Crime Information Center (“NCIC”).

         Turning to the specifics of Veach's case, Mayhugh testified that in July 2014, a warrant was requested for Veach because of a pending criminal case that Veach had in Hendricks County. The Court admitted Government's Exhibit 4, a copy of the warrant for retaking offender issued for Veach by the Indiana Parole Board on August 4, 2014. Mayhugh explained that Exhibit 4, the warrant for retaking Veach, did not have a delinquency date listed because Veach was not delinquent; that is, he had not failed to report to his supervising agent when the warrant was issued. The Court also admitted Government's Exhibit 5, a copy of the transmittal filled out by Matthys on July 31, 2014, and signed by a member of the Board on August 4, 2014, which had a recommendation that a warrant be issued for Veach, and the initial parole violation submitted by Matthys to the Board.

         The warrant depicted in Exhibit 4 was served by a parole agent on Veach while Veach was at the Hendricks County Jail. Mayhugh explained that the warrant was sent to an agent at Parole District 1 and a copy was faxed to the Hendricks County Jail. When a warrant for parole is issued for the arrest of someone who is in jail, the parole agent follows the case and the parole warrant is put in the person's jacket at the jail. If the person posts bond on the underlying case, the jail should contact either the parole district the jail is in or contact the parole office to have the person transferred back to a Department of Corrections facility.

         The proper protocol was not followed in Veach's case. After Veach's arrest in July 2014 in Hendricks County, he posted bond in the Hendricks County case. Veach also had a pending case out of Boone County. Before the Hendricks County jail moved Veach to Boone County, jail personnel looked in Veach's jacket to ensure that the warrant was still there. Jail personnel went to NCIC and did not see the warrant. They then erroneously marked in the jacket that the warrant was not valid. However, the warrant was no longer present in NCIC because a warrant is removed after it is served; the fact that the warrant was no longer in NCIC did not mean that it was no longer valid. Jail personnel should have contacted Mayhugh's office to inquire whether the warrant was still valid.

         Upon his release from Hendricks County, Veach was transported to Boone County for another warrant on an unrelated case. Veach posted bond from the Boone County case. Because Boone County jail personnel did not have a copy of Veach's parole warrant due to Hendricks County's mistake, Veach was released on January 13, 2015. After being released, Veach did not report to parole, and parole did not know where he was. In fact, parole believed that Veach was still in Hendricks County Jail; no one in the parole office knew that he had been released. The parole office finally learned that Veach had been released when a prosecutor from Hendricks County went to speak with Veach about his case.

         On July 14, 2015, after the parole office learned that Veach had been inadvertently released, a transmittal was sent to the Board requesting that the warrant be amended for Veach. See Gov. Exhibit 3. On that same date, the Board issued an amended warrant for Veach based on this transmittal and request. See Gov. Exhibit 2. The parole office also made attempts to find Veach. The reissued warrant showed up as active in the NCIC database on the date it was reissued.

         Eric Adams, a detective with the Lebanon Police Department who is assigned to the Hamilton/Boone County Drug Task Force, also testified at the hearing. Adams' testimony was relevant to both the warrant issue and the duffel bag issue. Adams explained that Veach had become the target of an investigation. Adams was unable to recall how he first learned that there was an active warrant for Veach, but he had learned of the active warrant in July 2015. ...

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