Judge: Search of retired deputy accused of drug trafficking was illegal
A Kane County judge Wednesday ruled illegal a search of a retired Oregon sheriff's deputy's truck that led to seizures of cocaine, heroin, meth and marijuana from storage lockers in Chicago and Milwaukee.
That evidence, therefore, cannot be used in the trial of William Floyd Marsh Jr. of Creswell, Oregon. He was charged with felony drug trafficking but sought to suppress evidence seized in the February 2014 search, saying authorities lacked probable cause for a traffic stop along the Jane Addams Tollway near Elgin and improperly detained him after a deputy issued Marsh a warning for an equipment violation.
Judge John Barsanti also suppressed Marsh's statements to police and disallowed evidence of drugs found in two storage lockers: 6.3 pounds of methamphetamine, 5.7 pounds of cocaine, 2.4 pounds of heroin and 55 pounds of marijuana.
Marsh, meanwhile, has been in Kane County jail for more than two years, held on $15 million bail, meaning he must post $1.5 million to be released while the case is pending.
Wednesday's ruling was the second such illegal search ruling by Barsanti, and the second involving the same sheriff's deputy. Those two rulings have brought lawsuits against the county.
Sheriff's Deputy Ron Hain improperly detained Marsh after issuing him a warning and continued questioning him when he should have been free to leave, Barsanti ruled. The questioning led to Marsh's admission he was carrying a gun, which prompted further searches of his truck, phones, GPS and eventually the storage lockers.
"The discovery was made by exploiting the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights," Barsanti said. "He was illegally detained in a second seizure without cause."
State's Attorney Joe McMahon said his office would respond to Wednesday's ruling in court.
Marsh's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Jillian Weiss, said the ruling sent a clear message "to Sgt. Hain and any other like-minded officers: the practice of unlawfully seizing and shaking down motorists without cause is an affront to the basic privacy rights afforded to us under the Fourth Amendment and will not be tolerated."
Last year, Barsanti ruled Kane County sheriff deputies, including Hain, conducted an improper strip search of a Minnesota man after an April 2015 traffic stop along I-90.
Prosecutors eventually dismissed the felony methamphetamine charges against Ismael Jaimes-Meza, 24, of St. Paul, in February.
Meza and two others pulled over in that April 2015 case have filed a federal lawsuit against Kane County arguing the aggressive highway patrols and seizures of cars and cash is basically a racketeering ring promoted by law enforcement. That case is due in federal court on May 4.
Marsh's next court date in Kane County is on May 4 and he faces 12 to 60 years in prison if convicted.
Marsh also filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the sheriff's department, Hain and others in February. The case is due in court on April 14.