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United States v. Roper

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division

March 1, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ANTHONY TYRONE ROPER AUDRA ROPER

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BRIAN K. EFPS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         The superseding indictment charges Defendant Anthony Tyrone Roper with procurement integrity fraud and bribery, Defendant Audra Roper with accessory after the fact, and both Defendants with making a false statement and obstructing justice. (Doc. no. 83.) Defendants move to suppress evidence seized pursuant to a search warrant for the Comcast email account “quadar@comcast.net.” (Doc. no. 50.) Upon consideration of the briefs and hearing testimony on January 24, 2018, the Court REPORTS and RECOMMENDS the Motion to Suppress be DENIED.

         I. FACTS

         Recitation of allegations in the superseding indictment and search warrant affidavit in no way implies adoption of them, but instead merely provides helpful context for discussion of the challenged search warrant.

         A. The Superseding Indictment Allegations

         The superseding indictment alleges the following facts. On January 11, 2013, May 1, 2013, March 25, 2015, and April 15, 2015, Mr. Roper, as a present official of the United States government, knowingly disclosed contract bid and proposal information and source selection information before the award of a federal procurement contract. (Doc. no. 83, ¶¶ 1-4.) In December of 2012, 2013, and 2014, Mr. Roper received bribes “in return for being influenced in the performance of his official acts” in the amounts of $25, 000.00, $20, 000.00, and $15, 000.00, respectively. (Id. ¶ 6.) On February 11, 2013, January 16, 2014, and January 27, 2015, Mr. Roper filed financial disclosure reports falsely stating he had not received income and gifts from prohibited sources during the reporting period. (Id. ¶¶ 8-10.)

         On December 15, 2015, Mrs. Roper falsely stated to federal law enforcement agents she had never heard of Quadar Group and was unaware Mr. Roper received payments from Communications, Research, Engineering, and Consultants Group, LLC (“CREC Group”). (Id. ¶ 11.) From December 2015 through November 2016, Defendants made false statements to investigators and submitted false and fraudulent invoices in order to “conceal and cover up the bribery, procurement integrity fraud violations, and other corrupt dealings . . . .” (Id. ¶¶ 7, 13.)

         B. The Comcast Warrant and Supporting Affidavit

         On January 13, 2016, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command Special Agent Preston T. Johnson obtained a search warrant for Mr. Roper's Comcast email account “quadar@comcast.net.” (Court's recording system, For the Record (hereinafter “FTR”) 10:12:30 - 10:12:47.) SA Johnson alleged the following facts in his supporting affidavit.

         Mr. Roper was a colonel in the U.S. Army and the Director of the Training and Doctrine Command (“TRADOC”), Capability Manager, Network & Services (“TCM N&S”), empowered to request the award of sole-source contracts to CREC Group. (Doc. no. 50-2, p. 4.) Calvin Lawyer, a retired U.S. Army colonel, founded CREC in 2006 while he was serving in the U.S. Army as the TCM N&S. (Id. at 5.) CREC began working on federal contracts as a subcontractor after Mr. Lawyer retired from the U.S. Army in 2008. (Id.) Mr. Roper was responsible for approving CREC invoices during 2008 and 2009. (Id.) CREC paid Mr. Roper $24, 400.99 in 2008 and $48, 315.20 in 2009. (Id.) In paperwork submitted to the Small Business Administration, CREC stated the Quadar Group payments were for “‘back office IT services to support the company's day to day operations.'” (Id.) Mrs. Roper is the “principal manager” of Quadar Group, which is located at Defendants' home. (Id. at 6.)

         In 2010 and 2011, while deployed in Kuwait to oversee communications infrastructure projects, Mr. Roper arranged for CREC to perform work as a subcontractor for Raytheon NIS. In those same two years, CREC paid Mr. Roper $43, 000. (Id.) In 2012, upon his return to Fort Gordon as director of TCM N&S, Mr. Roper signed a justification that resulted in the award of sole-source contracts to CREC in excess of $20 million. (Id.) From 2008 through 2014, CREC paid Mr. Roper at least $199, 278. (Id.)

         Mr. Roper utilized his military email account to communicate with Mr. Lawyer from 2009 through 2014. (Id. at 8.) On many occasions, Mr. Roper emailed sensitive government procurement information from his military account to his Comcast account, including (1) performance work statements; (2) independent government cost estimates; (3) specifications for an upcoming information technology purchase; (4) labor rate tables from existing contracts; and (5) job descriptions under existing contracts. (Id. at 9.)

         Attachment A to the warrant described the property to be produced by Comcast as “any and all information associated with quadar@comcast.net.” (Id. at 3.) Attachment B(I) more specifically ordered Comcast to produce (1) emails and attachments associated with the account; (2) information regarding identification of the account user; (3) information regarding the types of services utilized by the user; (4) information stored in the account such as address books, calendar data, and pictures; and (5) communications between Comcast and any person regarding the account. (Id. at 4-5.) Attachment B(II) to the warrant limited the government's ability to seize items in the Comcast production to the following categories:

         All information described above in Section I that constitutes evidence and of [sic] violations of 18 U.S.C. § 201 (Bribery), 18 U.S.C. § 201(c) (Gratuities) and 18 U.S.C. § 371 (Conspiracy), among others, those violations involving COL Anthony T. ROPER and occurring after 1 June 2008, including . . . information pertaining to the following matters:

(a) Evidence of unauthorized communications involving Government ...

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