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United States v. Glenn

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

July 26, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee
WALTER GLENN, Defendant-Appellant

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana

          Before BARKSDALE, SOUTHWICK, and HAYNES, Circuit Judges.

          HAYNES, Circuit Judges.

         A jury found Walter Glenn guilty of conspiracy, access device fraud, and identity theft for his role in a fraudulent check-cashing scheme. The district court denied two motions to suppress evidence taken from a rental car that Glenn was driving. Glenn contends the district court erred by admitting the evidence. He also challenges his sentence. We AFFIRM.


         In September 2014, Walter Glenn, Larry Walker and Thomas James were in a rental car, traveling through Louisiana on Interstate 10. Glenn was driving. Sergeant Donald Dawsey of the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's office stopped them for what he believed was a traffic violation. Dawsey walked to the vehicle and had Glenn give him his driver's license and insurance verification. Dawsey immediately noticed a set of screwdrivers in the door of the vehicle. The officer then had Glenn get out and go to the rear of the car. There, Dawsey pointed to the license plate, which was obscured with a tinted plastic cover and said the cover was the violation that caused the stop. Dawsey, who had two decades of experience with the sheriff's office at the time, later explained at a hearing that motorists often use such license plate covers to evade identification by traffic cameras. Glenn stated the cover was affixed to the license plate at the time of the rental and repeatedly offered to remove it.

         At the back of the car, Glenn explained that Walker had rented the vehicle. After questioning Glenn, Dawsey spoke with Walker and got the rental agreement, then returned to Glenn at the rear of the car for further questioning. Dawsey then told Glenn to stay behind the rental car while Dawsey returned to his cruiser to verify some of the information he had just received. By this point, about six and half minutes had passed since Glenn drove the vehicle onto the shoulder of the interstate and stopped.

         When Dawsey returned to his cruiser, he did not in fact input the information; instead he called for assistance. Several minutes later, Dawsey returned to question Glenn further, eventually asking if he could search the car. Glenn responded, "Yeah. You can search it." Dawsey told Walker that Glenn had consented to a search, to which Walker replied, "he said you can search it, search it." Walker and James stepped to the rear of the car, and Dawsey and other officers searched the car. They found, among other things, over 100 blank ID cards, dozens of blank checks, holographic overlays, a printer, envelopes with names and social security numbers, computer equipment, and $95, 000.

         The subsequent investigation revealed that Glenn, Walker, and James were involved in a multi-state counterfeit check scheme and had been in Texas to cash counterfeit checks. The Government charged them with conspiracy to make and pass counterfeit checks, produce fraudulent IDs, and use unauthorized access devices (i.e., social security numbers). It also charged them with access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.

         In 2016, all three filed suppression motions challenging the legality of the stop and the search of the entire vehicle. The district court denied Glenn's and James' motions and partially denied Walker's, holding: the stop was lawful; the officer had reasonable suspicion for extending the stop; and, Glenn and James lacked standing to challenge the search of the vehicle. In partially granting Walker's motion, the court ruled his consent to the search was not voluntary. The Government appealed. We affirmed the district court's partial grant of Walker's motion to suppress, and the Government dismissed his charges. See United States v. Walker, 706 Fed.Appx. 152, 154-56 (5th Cir. 2017).

         James and Glenn's cases were held in abeyance during the pendency of the interlocutory appeal concerning Walker. Following our opinion in Walker, Glenn and James filed a second joint suppression motion primarily regarding their personal items found in bags and luggage within the car. The district court again refused to suppress any evidence as to Glenn, concluding Glenn gave valid consent to the search. The court granted James' motion to suppress items found in his personal bag, and James later pled guilty to all counts. Only Glenn went to trial where the jury found him guilty of all charges. The district court sentenced him to 120 months in prison.

         On appeal, Glenn challenges the district court's denials of his motions to suppress and several sentencing decisions.


         I. Suppression issues

         "On appeal of the denial of a motion to suppress, this court reviews the district court's fact findings for clear error and its legal conclusions de novo." United States v. Rounds, 749 F.3d 326, 337 (5th Cir. 2014). We view "the evidence in the light most favorable ...

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