Case Law Support

Recent court rulings and videos related to payment card fraud.

United States v. Ross William Ulbricht – Silk Road

May 31, 2017


Docket No. 15-1815 Decided: May 31, 2017

Before: NEWMAN, LYNCH, and DRONEY, Circuit Judges.JOSHUA L. DRATEL, Joshua L. Dratel, P.C., New York, NY, for defendant-appellant Ross William Ulbricht. EUN YOUNG CHOI, Assistant United States Attorney (Michael D. Neff, Timothy T. Howard, Adam S. Hickey, Assistant United States Attorneys, on the brief), for Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, New York, NY. Tamar Todd, Jolene Forman, Drug Policy Alliance, Oakland, CA, for amici curiae Drug Policy Alliance, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, JustLeadershipUSA, and Nancy Gertner. Joel B. Rudin, Law Offices of Joel B. Rudin, P.C., New York, NY; Steven R. Morrison, University of North Dakota School of Law, Grand Forks, ND, for amicus curiae National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Defendant Ross William Ulbricht appeals from a judgment of conviction and sentence to life imprisonment entered in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Katherine B. Forrest, J.). A jury convicted Ulbricht of drug trafficking and other crimes associated with his creation and operation of Silk Road, an online marketplace whose users primarily purchased and sold illegal goods and services. He challenges several aspects of his conviction and sentence, arguing that (1) the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence assertedly obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment; (2) the district court committed numerous errors that deprived him of his right to a fair trial, and incorrectly denied his motion for a new trial; and (3) his life sentence is both procedurally and substantively unreasonable. Because we identify no reversible error, we AFFIRM Ulbricht’s conviction and sentence in all respects.


BACKGROUND In February 2015, a jury convicted Ross William Ulbricht on seven counts arising from his creation and operation of Silk Road under the username Dread Pirate Roberts (“DPR”).1 Silk Road was a massive, anonymous criminal marketplace that operated using the Tor Network, which renders Internet traffic through the Tor browser extremely difficult to trace.2 Silk Road users principally bought and sold drugs, false identification documents, and computer hacking software. Transactions on Silk Road exclusively used Bitcoins, an anonymous but traceable digital currency.3 The site also contained a private message system, which allowed users to send messages to each other (similar to communicating via email), a public forum to discuss topics related to Silk Road, and a “wiki,” which is like an encyclopedia that users could access to receive advice about using the site. Silk Road customers and vendors…

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United States v. Jervis A. Hillaire – U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit

May 18, 2017


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee, v. JERVIS A. HILLAIRE, Defendant, Appellant.

No. 15-1692 Decided: May 18, 2017

Before Lynch, Thompson, and Barron, Circuit Judges.James S. Hewes for appellant. Renée M. Bunker, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Thomas E. Delahanty II, United States Attorney, was on brief, for appellee.

Jervis A. Hillaire challenges his conviction for conspiracy to commit access-device fraud on the ground that the District Court erred in denying his pretrial suppression motion. We affirm.


I. Hillaire, along with his co-defendant, Gyadeen P. Ramdihall, was indicted in federal court in the District of Maine on February 25, 2014, for conspiracy to possess and use counterfeit access devices with intent to defraud, see 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(1), (a)(3), (b)(2); id. § 371, as well as several related counts. Specifically, Hillaire was also indicted for (1) possession of counterfeit access devices, and aiding and abetting such possession; (2) use of counterfeit access devices, and aiding and abetting such use; and (3) wire fraud, and aiding and abetting wire fraud. See 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(1), (a)(3); id. § 1343; id. § 2. Before their trial, Hillaire and Ramdihall submitted motions to the District Court to suppress evidence and statements that had been obtained in the previous months in connection with three traffic stops. Two…

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United States v. Courtland Lenard Turner – US Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

October 13, 2016

No. 15-50788
Plaintiff – Appellee
Defendant – Appellant

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
Before WIENER, CLEMENT, and COSTA, Circuit Judges.

GREGG COSTA, Circuit Judge:
The central issue in this case is whether a law enforcement officer’s scanning of the magnetic stripe on the back of a gift card is a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. We join two other circuits in holding that it is not.

Defendant Courtland Turner was riding in a car driven by Roderick Henderson that was pulled over for lacking a visible license plate light. Henderson failed to show the officer a valid driver’s license, providing him instead with a Texas identification card. Turner likewise provided the officer with an identification card.

United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit
FILED October 13, 2016
Lyle W. Cayce, Clerk


The officer retreated to his patrol car to conduct a records check and verify Turner’s and Henderson’s identities. In doing so, he discovered that Turner had an active arrest warrant for possession of marijuana. As a result, the officer asked Turner to exit the vehicle; he complied. As Turner exited the vehicle, the officer observed an opaque plastic bag partially protruding from the front passenger seat. It appeared to the officer that someone attempted to conceal the bag by pushing it under the seat. After placing Turner in the patrol car while dispatch confirmed the warrant, the officer asked Henderson what was inside the bag. Henderson handed the officer the bag and said that “we”—apparently referring to Turner and himself—purchased gift cards. The officer opened the bag and saw approximately 100 gift cards. He then asked…

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United States v. Eric-Arnaud Benjamin Briere DE L’Isle – U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

November 20, 2015

United States Court of Appeals
For the Eighth Circuit
No. 15-1316
United States of America
Plaintiff – Appellee
Eric-Arnaud Benjamin Briere DE L’Isle
Defendant – Appellant
Appeal from United States District Court
for the District of Nebraska – Lincoln
Submitted: November 20, 2015
Filed: June 8, 2016
Before RILEY, Chief Judge, BEAM and KELLY, Circuit Judges.
BEAM, Circuit Judge.

Eric-Arnaud Benjamin Briere DE L’Isle appeals the district court’s
denial of his motion to suppress information discovered by law enforcement after officers
seized credit, debit, and gift cards from DE L’Isle’s vehicle and scanned the cards’
magnetic strips. Despite DE L’Isle’s untimely motion to suppress, the district court
examined the merits of the motion and concluded that reading the magnetic strip on
the back of a credit, debit, or gift card was not a search within the meaning of the
Fourth Amendment. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm.


I. BACKGROUND On June 20, 2014, Sergeant Michael Vance stopped DE L’Isle for following too closely to a semi-tractor trailer. When the officer approached DE L’Isle’s car, he smelled burnt marijuana and saw air fresheners inside the car. DE L’Isle accompanied Sergeant Vance to his police cruiser where DE L’Isle was given a warning citation for following too closely. Sergeant Vance then deployed his canine, which alerted to the presence of controlled substances inside the vehicle. When Sergeant Vance began searching the vehicle, DE L’Isle approached him and told him he could not search the vehicle. After a brief struggle between DE L’Isle and Sergeant Vance, DE L’Isle was handcuffed and placed into the backseat of the police cruiser. Sergeant Vance and two other officers completed the search. No narcotics were found, but they seized a…

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United States v. Bah – U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

July 24, 2015

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff–Appellee, v. Mamadou BAH (14–5178); Allan Marcus Harvey (14–5179), Defendants–Appellants.
Nos. 14–5178, 14–5179. Decided: July 24, 2015

Before ROGERS and McKEAGUE, Circuit Judges; SARGUS, Chief District Judge.*ARGUED:Laura E. Davis, Federal Defender Services of Eastern Tennessee, Inc., Knoxville, Tennessee, for Appellant in 14–5178. Jonathan Sevier Cave, The Cave Law Firm, PLLC, Greenville, Tennessee, for Appellant in 14–5179. Suzanne Kerney–Quillen, United States Attorney’s Office, Greeneville, Tennessee, for Appellee. ON BRIEF:Laura E. Davis, Federal Defender Services of Eastern Tennessee, Inc., Knoxville, Tennessee, for Appellant in 14–5178. Jonathan Sevier Cave, The Cave Law Firm, PLLC, Greenville, Tennessee, for Appellant in 14–5179. Suzanne Kerney–Quillen, United States Attorney’s Office, Greeneville, Tennessee, for Appellee.


This case addresses whether an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the magnetic strips on credit cards. On May 23, 2013, Morristown Police Corporal Todd Davidson stopped a rental vehicle driven by Mamadou Bah for speeding in a construction zone. During the traffic stop, officers placed Bah under arrest for driving on a suspended license and detained passenger Allan Harvey for “investigatory purposes” after discovering approximately 72 credit, debit, and gift cards in the rental car’s glove compartment and trunk. Bah and Harvey filed motions to suppress evidence of the credit, debit, and gift cards and cell phones found in the car in district court, alleging that the officers had violated their Fourth Amendment rights by: (1) unlawfully searching the rental car in which Bah and Harvey were driving, incident to Bah’s arrest; (2) scanning the magnetic strips on numerous credit, debit, and gift cards found inside the vehicle, without first obtaining a warrant; (3) performing a warrantless search of a Blackberry cell phone; and (4) unlawfully detaining Harvey following Bah’s arrest. The district court denied their motions, and Bah and Harvey appeal. Because Harvey does not have standing to contest the search of Bah’s rental vehicle, Harvey was reasonably detained during the traffic stop, the warrantless search of Bah’s Blackberry did not taint the subsequent cell phone searches conducted pursuant to a warrant, and scanning the magnetic strips of credit and gift cards was not a search, the district court properly determined that neither Bah nor Harvey’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated.


On May 23, 2013, Morristown Police Corporal Todd Davidson stopped a white Nissan Altima for traveling 56 miles per hour in a 35–mile–per–hour construction zone. Davidson approached the vehicle and found Mamadou Bah in the driver’s seat and Allan Marcus Harvey reclined in the front passenger seat, “as if he [had been] taking a nap.” Bah gave Davidson his license and documentation on the Hertz rental vehicle, and Davidson returned to his cruiser to perform a background check. While running the background check, Davidson observed Harvey “fumbling around the passenger’s side compartment as if he was either trying to conceal something or retrieve something.”1 Because Harvey’s movements made Davidson nervous,2 Davidson called for back-up. Before back-up arrived, the records check revealed that Bah’s license had been suspended. Consequently, Davidson prepared to arrest Bah, pursuant to police regulation General…

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A legal perspective to processing payment cards

March 10, 2015

Hear Deputy District Attorney Reid Pixler discuss important aspects of the ERAD system and what Attorneys need to know about investing payment cards and seizing prepaid card cash.