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. Ranochak

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

June 20, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JAMES RANOCHAK, et al.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Joseph S. Van Bokkelen United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant James Ranochak's second motion to suppress (DE 49), in which he seeks to exclude statements he made and items law enforcement officers seized at his home on September 11, 2013. The Court held an evidentiary hearing on April 17, 2019. With the completion of post-hearing briefing on May 24, 2019, the matter is now ripe for decision.

         A. Background

         On the morning of September 11, 2013, Ranochak, a medical doctor, was at his home in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Several law enforcement officials came to his door, were admitted, spoke with him, and searched his house. He contends his statements to the law enforcement personnel must be suppressed because he was in custody when he made them and had not been given Miranda warnings. He further maintains that items seized from his home that morning must be suppressed because they were the product of an illegal, warrantless search. Although he signed a consent form authorizing the search of his house and car, he argues that his consent was not voluntary and therefore invalid.

         B. Summary of Tucker Testimony

         According to Jennifer Tucker, a diversion investigator with the Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”), on September 11, 2013, at around 10:00 am, she went to Ranochak's home along with a Food and Drug Administration special agent Michael Thalji, DEA agent Michael Foldesi, and DEA task force officer Peter Mooney. She was not armed, but the others were. Four people went to the house that day because they intended to ask for consent to search and additional people would be needed for the search.

         Tucker and Thalji approached the front door while the other two officers waited in the driveway. They knocked on the front door or rang the door bell, or possibly both. Ranochak answered the door, dressed for work. After showing him her ID and introducing herself, Tucker asked him if he would be willing to answer some questions concerning his DEA registration. He was told that talking to them was voluntary. Ranochak answered “yes, ” and invited all four members of the team inside, leading Tucker and Thalji to the living room, while the others waited in a hallway. He appeared to Tucker to be alert.

         Ranochak spoke with Tucker and Thalji in the living room for about an hour. To initiate the conversation, Tucker asked Ranochak about his health because she noticed he was limping. He told her he was in pain from hip bursitis and that he took vitamin supplements and medication for diabetes. He never told Tucker that the pain was affecting his ability to think clearly. He then “launched into . . . information about his medical practice.” (Tr. 10, l. 19-20.)

         At no point during the encounter were any weapons drawn. All participants used a conversational tone. Ranochak was never threatened or told he must speak with Tucker and Thalji. Ranochak never asked the team to leave. Ranochak was never told that they had a warrant or could get one, but was told that there was a warrant for his office.

         As Tucker remembered, at the conclusion of the interview, Ranochak was asked once if he would consent to a search of his home. He was told that the search was completely voluntary and that the team could stop at any time. He verbally agreed to the search and signed a written consent form which stated that he had been asked to permit DEA agents to search his “house and car”-words that he wrote on the form- that he had not been threatened or forced in any way, and that he freely consented to the search. He then escorted two of the officers around the residence, while Tucker and Thalji searched the kitchen. He was pleasant and talkative during the search. He never asked the searchers to stop or leave his house.

         When the search concluded, Ranochak was given a DEA receipt for the items that were being taken from his house. The team left after Tucker arranged to meet him at the North Avenue Pharmacy, where his office was located, because he wanted to show her some records. Ranochak drove himself to the pharmacy.

         C. Summary of James Ranochak Testimony

         Ranochak was the only other witness at the hearing. He testified that on September 11, 2013, he did not get to his office at the usual time of 10:00 am because he was passing a kidney stone and had a lot of blood in his urine. He was in pain from the kidney stone and his hip, knee, and back. He was sweating and short of breath and had not had anything to eat since the night before.

         Ranochak's memory is that his wife answered the door and called him down, telling him that the DEA was there. He met them at the front door while they were still outside. Tucker told him they were raiding his office and that she wanted to come into his house and look around. He ...


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.