Brothel owner seeks to suppress evidence in child porn case

2008-01-16T00:00:00Z Brothel owner seeks to suppress evidence in child porn caseThe Associated Press The Associated Press
January 16, 2008 12:00 am  • 

CHEYENNE - The owner of a Nevada brothel who's charged with possessing and transporting child pornography in Wyoming has asked a federal judge to suppress the evidence against him.

A lawyer for David Burgess, 55, says the government's search of his laptop computer following a traffic stop last summer violated his constitutional rights.

Burgess is owner of the Old Bridge Ranch, a legal brothel east of Reno, Nev. He's also a leader of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang in Nevada.

James H. Barrett, assistant federal public defender in Cheyenne, represents Burgess. Barrett on Monday asked U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson to block prosecutors from using the seized computer materials in court.

In his suppression request, Barrett states that Burgess was a passenger in a motor home that a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper pulled over last July near Evanston. The trooper stopped the motor home because it was pulling a trailer with expired tags.

According to a police statement, both the driver and Burgess told police they were members of the Hells Angels and were traveling to the 2007 Hells Angels USA Run in Eureka Springs, Ark.

Barrett states that a Uinta County Sheriff's deputy happened by during the traffic stop and volunteered the use of his drug dog to sniff around the motor home. The dog reportedly alerted on the door to the motor home.

Although Burgess told police that they needed a warrant to search the motor home, Barrett states that both the state trooper and the deputy searched the inside of the motor home, finding marijuana and a substance the police believed to be cocaine.

State drug charges were filed against Burgess, but were later dismissed.

Troopers impounded the motor home after the traffic stop.

Barrett states that police applied for a search warrant to allow them to search the motor home and trailer for "evidence of controlled substances or dealing in controlled substances," including computer records. They also applied to search for personal property that would "tend to show a conspiracy to sell drugs."

Jim Anderson, assistant U.S. Attorney in Cheyenne, said at a court hearing last month that a search of a laptop computer found in the motor home showed it to be "chock full" of child pornography, leading to the pending criminal charges against Burgess.

Anderson hasn't yet filed a response to Barrett's suppression motion.

Barrett points out in his argument to Judge Johnson that the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that warrants must "particularly describe the place to be searched and the persons and things to be seized."

Barrett argues that the warrant in Burgess' case was written so broadly that it allowed the officers conducting the case to determine on their own what they could seize. "All computer records and personal property fall within the ambit of the warrant," he wrote.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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