The Law Offices of John Phebus

Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputy’s drug charges to be dropped

The U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protects Americans against unreasonable searches by our government. That means law enforcement can’t go into our homes or eavesdrop on our private conversations without probable cause and a search warrant.

If police invade our homes or our privacy without court permission, the evidence gathered in those illegal searches cannot be used at trial. That appears to be what has happened with a former Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputy who was accused of felonies including drug crimes and money laundering. 

Law enforcement officials monitored the former officer’s phone calls and heard what they thought was incriminating evidence against him, but they failed to first get proper authorization to tap his calls. Prosecutors say charges against the man are now likely to be dismissed.

The 41-year-old was accused of money laundering, using a building to sell and manufacture drugs, insurance fraud, illegal control of an enterprise and assisting a criminal syndicate, as well as other charges.

The Maricopa County Attorney said his office is responsible for the failure to file the needed documents to procure the authorization for the wiretap. 

"This is our mistake, so we have to own it," the prosecutor said.

The former lawman was arrested along with eight others back in 2011.

The legal system is imperfect, as are the people working in it. One of the jobs of a criminal defense attorney is to protect clients’ rights by pointing out to courts when illegal searches and seizures have taken place and then using the Constitution to protect the client’s freedom.

Source: AZcentral.com, "Ex-MCSO deputy's smuggling charges likely dismissed," Matthew Casey, Dec. 19, 2014

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