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United States v. Edike

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

September 16, 2019

United States of America,
v.
Sidney Edike, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Michael L. Brown, United States District Judge

         A grand jury indicted Defendant Sidney Edike with thirty counts of wire fraud, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft based on an alleged fraudulent tax return and refund scheme. Defendant Edike filed three pretrial motions: (1) a motion to suppress statements he made during the execution of a search warrant at his residence (Dkt. 20), (2) a motion to suppress evidence obtained during that search (Dkt. 19), and (3) a perfected motion to suppress evidence and a request for a Franks v. Delaware hearing (Dkt. 35). The Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”), recommending denying all three motions. (Dkt. 42.) Defendant filed an appeal-preserving objection to the R&R. (Dkt. 44.) The Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge and denies all three of Defendant Edike's motions to suppress.

         I. Background

         In September 2018, a grand jury returned a thirty-count indictment against Defendant Edike. (Dkt. 1.) The indictment charged him with wire fraud, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft related to an alleged fraudulent tax refund scheme. According to the indictment, Defendant Edike was responsible for filing more than 400 false tax returns, all claiming tax refunds, many of which were deposited into the same recurring Regions Bank accounts. (Id. at 2.) The bank accounts were also fraudulently opened, using a name and social security number of an actual person, but with a mailing address that did not belong to that person. (Id. at 3.) After the refunds were deposited into the accounts, the indictment alleges that Defendant Edike withdrew the funds from various ATMs. (Id.)

         Leading up to the indictment, federal agents had secured a search warrant for Defendant Edike's residence, which had been one of the addresses of record on the Regions Bank accounts. (Dkt. 42 at 4.) Defendant moved to suppress the evidence collected during this search, along with a statement he gave agents during a roughly three-hour interview.

         The Magistrate Judge held an evidentiary hearing where she considered Defendant Edike's first two motions. (Dkt. 25.) Defendant Edike later filed a perfected motion to suppress evidence and requested a Franks v. Delaware hearing to challenge the validity of the search warrant based on allegations of government misconduct. (Dkt. 35 at 1.)

         The Magistrate Judge considered each of these motions and then issued an R&R recommending denial of all three. (Dkt. 42 at 20.)

         II. Legal Standard

         A district judge has a duty to conduct a “careful and complete” review of a magistrate judge's report and recommendation. Williams v. Wainwright, 681 F.2d 732, 732 (11th Cir. 1982) (per curiam). When a party files objections to an R&R, the district court must review de novo any part of the disposition that is the subject of a proper objection. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). A court reviews all other portions of the R&R for clear error. See United States v. Slay, 714 F.2d 1093, 1095 (11th Cir. 1983) (per curiam).

         In objecting to an R&R, “parties . . . must specifically identify those findings objected to. Frivolous, conclusive, or general objections need not be considered by the district court.” United States v. Schultz, 565 F.3d 1353, 1361 (11th Cir. 2009). Without proper objections, the Court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings and recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

         III. Discussion

         Within the statutory deadline to file written objections to the R&R, Defendant Edike submitted a filing to the Court stylized as “Mr. Edike's Objection to Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation.” (Dkt. 44.) The filing, however, is not a distinct objection but merely a reiteration of Defendant's arguments in his briefs and an attempt at preserving the objection for appeal:

Defendant therefore respectfully objects to the conclusions of the Magistrate Judge in order to preserve this issue for the appellate record. Defendant objects to the recommendations made by the R&R, maintains the positions ...

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