In a recent opinion having to do with fraudulent credit cards, a Massachusetts court reversed the lower court’s decision granting a defendant’s motion to suppress. The defendant was charged with several crimes, one of which was possession of counterfeit credit cards. The defendant had argued that incriminating evidence supporting this charge should be denied, and at first, the court agreed with him. When the Commonwealth appealed, however, the higher court reversed that decision and decided to deny the defendant’s motion to suppress.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, police officers received information in December 2017 from an attorney that represented a local furniture store regarding two fraudulent purchases of furniture. The lawyer explained that the day after the furniture was delivered to an apartment, the credit card company disputed the charges and the furniture store received a chargeback notice.
An additional order was placed by telephone to the same store shortly thereafter, and again the furniture store received notice of a chargeback. An employee of the store went to the delivery address to investigate, and the person answering the door said that he had to get ready for school, then never came back to the door.
A detective conducted a public records check and discovered that two different people were attached to one address in the public record. The detective looked into the two different people, one of whom became the defendant in this case. The detective applied for and was granted a search warrant for the address in question; upon a search, officers found approximately one hundred credit cards in the apartment. This discovery is what ultimately led, in part, to the defendant being arrested, charged, and convicted of possession of counterfeit credit cards.
The defendant filed a motion to suppress incriminating evidence found in the search of his apartment, which included other evidence such as cocaine, a revolver, a laptop with a credit card reader attached, and $77,000 in cash. The lower court granted the motion, suppressing the evidence.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts filed an appeal of this decision, arguing the motion to suppress should have been denied. According to the defendant, there was no way for the officer who conducted the public records check to know if the information he received was accurate, and it was thus unreasonable for him to use the records check as a basis for obtaining a search warrant. The court disagreed: the officer did what he was supposed to do by corroborating the records check’s information with the postal inspector to make sure the information linking the defendant and the apartment was reliable. Given the facts of the case, said the court, it was reasonable for the officer to believe he needed to search the apartment in order to find out if criminal activity was indeed occurring there.
The higher court agreed with the Commonwealth and decided to reverse the lower court’s decision. Accordingly, the motion to suppress was denied and the defendant’s case was sent back to the lower court with this adjusted status.
Are You Facing Fraud Charges in Massachusetts?
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