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United States v. Hussien

United States District Court, D. Maine

October 17, 2018




         Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Suppress (ECF No. 29). The Court held an evidentiary hearing on September 25, 2018. As explained herein, the Court now DENIES the Motion.


         The following facts are drawn from the preponderance of the evidence based upon the Court's consideration of the testimony of Special Agent Janine Rocheleau and all of the exhibits admitted at the hearing on Defendant's Motion:

         On the morning of March 20, 2018, Special Agent James Sauer, Special Agent Jeremy Anderson, both with the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service (DOS-DSS), along with another DOS-DSS administrative employee, traveled to Vermont. Once there, they met with Special Agent Janine Rocheleau of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG).

         SA Sauer had previously contacted SA Rocheleau in June 2017 seeking her assistance in locating an individual that he believed was living in Section Eight housing in Vermont. SA Rocheleau was able to find an address for Hussien Noor Hussien, the target of Sauer's investigation. Thereafter, Rocheleau conducted surveillance of the address in question and ultimately identified two vehicles registered to Hussien.

         With this initial surveillance complete, Rocheleau met up with her three colleagues from DOS-DSS shortly before noon on March 20. Dressed in plain clothes with no weapons displayed, all four of them drove in a single vehicle to Hussien's residence in Winooski, Vermont. They hoped they would find Hussien Noor Hussien at his residence and interview him. Upon arrival, they noticed that none of the vehicles Hussien was thought to drive were present at the residence. SA Rocheleau then recognized a Toyota Highlander that she believed belonged to Hussien at a nearby red light. The agents followed that vehicle to a local TD Bank and parked in the bank parking lot. Once parked, SA Sauer and SA Rocheleau exited the vehicle and walked around the bank where they ultimately encountered Hussien in his vehicle having just apparently conducted a banking transaction at a drive-up window teller. SA Sauer approached Hussien's vehicle, identified himself, and indicated he would like to speak with Hussien about some passport issues. Hussien indicated he would talk to the agents and SA Sauer then asked him to park his car in a nearby parking spot at which point the Sauer, Rocheleau, and Anderson approached his vehicle on foot.

         Initially, Rocheleau approached the driver side of Hussien's SUV while Sauer and Anderson went over to the passenger side of the parked vehicle. Because it was a cold, the agents asked if they could enter the vehicle, which Hussien allowed. At that point, SA Sauer got in the front passenger seat and SA Anderson got in the rear passenger seat. SA Rocheleau stood by the driver side door, a position from which she could watch Hussien's hands and make sure everybody was safe.[1] Because the driver side window was rolled down, SA Rocheleau could hear the entirety of the interview from this position. SA Anderson recorded the entire interview.[2]

         SA Sauer began the interview by giving Hussien a false statement warning. He then provided Hussien with written Miranda warnings in both English and Somali. See Gov't Exs. 3A & 3B. Hussien indicated he could not read either version of the written warning and needed further explanation. SA Sauer then proceeded to give Hussien an oral Miranda warning.

         SA Sauer then began his interview by showing Hussien a photograph. Hussien indicated he knew the man in the photograph “from the refugee camp” and indicated his name was “Abukar Addullah.” SA Sauer then stated, “when you came to the United States you said you were him.” Hussien then proceeded to provide more details about how he was married to the wife of the man in the photograph. Sauer proceed to ask a series of questions about Hussien's children and their names, his birthdate, and his employment. Hussien was able to understand and answer all of these questions. In response to some of Sauer's questions, Hussien clearly indicated he did not understand the question and sought clarification. As the questioning continued, Hussien acknowledged that he used the name “Abukar” when he filled out paperwork in the refugee camp.

         As the interview progressed, SA Sauer explained to Hussien that the agents had already spoken with multiple people who indicated that Hussien “pretended to be Abukar Hasson Abdul so [he] could come to the United States with [his first wife] and her children.” (Gov't Ex. 2 at 39.) While acknowledging having gone by an alternative name, Hussien maintained he did not have a problem.

         After SA Sauer completed his questioning of Hussien, SA Rocheleau, who was still standing by the driver's side window, proceeded to ask Hussien some questions regarding his use of both of his current name and his prior name, Abukar Abdul, on various Section Eight housing paperwork. She also asked what name Hussien used when interacting with his family.

         As the interview ended, SA Sauer provided Hussien with a copy of his business card and told Hussien, “We might have to talk later on. I'm going to see if I can get this straightened out for you.” (Gov't Ex. 2 at 60.) Sauer and the other agents thanked Hussien and exited the vehicle, which had remained running for the entirety of the interview. The whole interview lasted approximately fifty minutes. During that time, Hussien never asked to end the interview or speak with an attorney.

         II. ...

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