United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
S. Van Bokkelen United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on the motion of Defendants James
Ranochak, Brent Losier, and Charles Ringger filed in No.
2:17-CR-73 (DE 110) to suppress evidence and an identical
motion (DE 39) filed by Ranochak in No. 2:17-CR-117.
all worked at 3537 North Anthony Boulevard
(“3537") in Fort Wayne, Ranochak as a doctor and
Losier and Ringger as pharmacists. A company called North
Anthony Pharmacy and Wellness Center Inc., owned by Losier,
leased the entire building at 3537 from the owner. According
to the lettering on the door, North Anthony Pharmacy occupied
Suite A of the building and Ranochak's office was in
Suite B. Ranochak was a sublessee of Losier.
before September 11, 2013, various law enforcement agencies
began investigating the operations at 3537. As part of the
investigation, a search warrant was executed at 3537 on that
date. The search warrant identified the search location as
“North Anthony Pharmacy and the office of Dr. James E.
Ranochak, Suites A & B located at 3537 North Anthony
Blvd., Fort Wayne, IN, a single story commercial
after undercover operations at 3537 ended but before the
search warrant was executed, a business called Pathology
Laboratories (“Path Labs”) and Dr. Syed Sohail
moved into the building. They also were sublessees of Losier.
In addition to the pharmacy and Ranochak's office, Dr.
Sohail's office and Path Labs's office, as well as a
filing room that Defendants claim was part of the area
covered by Dr. Sohail's lease, were searched on September
11. Many items were seized from these areas, especially the
file room, where Ranochak kept his patient files.
insist that their Fourth Amendment rights were violated
because the search extended beyond the pharmacy and
Ranochak's office and that the evidence seized from
anywhere but those areas must be suppressed.
Court must first decide whether any of the Defendants has the
legal right to challenge the seizure of evidence from areas
they did not lease. The Fourth Amendment right to be free
from unreasonable searches and seizures is a personal right
that can only be asserted by the individual whose rights are
violated. United States v. Swift, 220 F.3d 502, 510
(7th Cir. 2000). The question, as to each Defendant, is
whether that Defendant had a subjective expectation of
privacy that society recognizes as reasonable in the areas
beyond Suites A and B at 3537. See Kyllo v. United
States, 533 U.S. 27, 33 (2001). Defendants have the
burden of showing a reasonable expectation of privacy.
See United States v. Torres, 32 F.3d 225, 230 (7th
Cir. 1994). Moreover, Defendants must have a privacy interest
in both the seized items and the area where the items were
found. See United States v. Mendoza, 438 F.3d 792,
795 (7th Cir.2006). Some of the factors a court must consider
are whether (1) the person had a possessory interest in the
place that was searched; (2) the person had a right to
exclude others from that place; (3) the person exhibited a
subjective expectation that the place remain free from
governmental invasion; (4) the person took normal precautions
to protect his privacy; and (5) the person was legitimately
on the premises. United States v. Duprey, 895 F.2d
303, 309 (7th Cir. 1989).
clear that none of the three Defendants had such reasonable
expectations regarding Dr. Sohail's office and the Path
Labs office. The only relationship Ranochak and Ringger had
to those areas was that they were co-tenants in the same
building. The Court is not aware of any case that recognizes
a reasonable expectation of privacy in such circumstances.
Likewise, Losier's status as the sublessor of those
premises gives him no such expectations. Because no Defendant
can claim his Fourth Amendment rights were personally
violated by the search of the Sohail and Path Labs offices,
no items seized from these areas will be suppressed.
Moreover, as to the file room, Losier and Ringger have not
persuaded the Court that they have any reasonable
expectations of privacy regarding that area or the items
seized there, which according to the evidence, consisted only
of patient files belonging to Ranochak and Dr. Sohail, not
search of the file room that Defendants claim was part of Dr.
Sohail's office requires a different analysis with regard
to Ranochak because he kept his patient files there. Even
assuming, without deciding, that he did have a reasonable
expectation of privacy as to the file room, the Court
concludes that Ranochak's Fourth Amendment rights were
not violated by the search of that room because it was a
functional part of his suite B and as such was covered by the
Court finds that the file room was not marked in any way that
would give the searching officers notice that it was a part
of the premises not occupied by Ranochak. The law enforcement
officers who testified at the suppression hearing all stated
that they did not remember any suite designations inside 3537
and that, if they had encountered rooms designated as C and
D, they would have gotten in touch with the AUSA in charge of
the investigation, which they did not do. According to the
markings on the outside door to 3537, the building contained
only Suites A and B. While stenciling on the door did
indicate that Path Labs was on the premises, no suite number
was given, so that searchers could reasonably conclude that
it was a part of Suite A or B. Defendants introduced a letter
purportedly from Dr. Sohail to a Drug Enforcement Agency
supervisor of operations. Tellingly, in the letter he states
that his clinic was registered as Suite C with the post
office, but doesn't claim that either of the rooms he
purportedly leased as Suite C were marked as such inside the
was much conflicting testimony about whether the rooms inside
3537 had suite designations on the day of the search. The
Court credits the testimony of Dawn Baisden, who worked for
Path Labs at 3537 only during the month of September 2013.
She started work there on September 1 and resigned at the end
of the month. Dr. Sohail became a tenant at 3537 sometime
after she started. She testified that she saw no plaques
inside the building designating any of the rooms as Suite A,
B, C, or D. Patients knew which room to go to for Path
Labs's services because Ringger or Losier would escort
testimony is the most reliable because she was only at 3537
for a short period of time that included September 11, 2013.
Other witnesses who worked there longer periods of time may
be remembering a time after the search warrant was executed,
when suite identification plaques were placed inside the
building. Because both Path Labs and Dr. Sohail had very
recently moved into ...