Friday , February 16, 2018 - 5:00 AM
SALT LAKE CITY — An Ogden man now faces trial on three felony charges after a federal judge upheld a warrantless search that yielded a handgun and methamphetamine from a black bag in front of the suspect’s home.
Miguel Isaac Lucero, 48, sought to suppress the evidence found by police in Ogden after an officer saw Lucero toss the bag to the side of a porch in front of his duplex on Jan. 2, 2016.
Two officers were near the duplex investigating an auto theft when Lucero was walking out of the duplex and saw a police car across the street, according to U.S. District Court records. Lucero threw the bag about 20 feet away, not noticing one of the officers on foot, watching him.
Police opened the bag and found 50 grams of methamphetamine and a stolen .22 caliber pistol, records said. Officers arrested Lucero and obtained a warrant to search his dwelling, finding more narcotics and drug paraphernalia.
Lucero is charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. Convictions on those charges could bring sentences totaling 20 years, including a mandatory minimum 10 years on the third charge.
The Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force referred the case to federal prosecution because some firearms charges carry greater penalties there than in state courts.
Attorneys for Lucero argued police violated his Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search because the bag was at his residence and police did not get a warrant first.
But in a ruling filed Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, Judge Jill Parrish ruled Lucero abandoned any objectively reasonable privacy interest in the black bag when he threw it.
When an officer asked why Lucero had thrown the bag, the suspect remained silent and didn’t object when the officer retrieved and opened the bag.
“Lucero’s actions communicated a clear intent to disclaim ownership of the bag, and to suggest that it belonged to another,” Parrish wrote. “By disassociating himself from the bag through his actions, he abandoned it.”
Police also seized $1,702 in cash from Lucero and federal attorneys filed a civil asset forfeiture action to collect the case for the government.
Parrish ordered the case to proceed to trial Feb. 26. Lucero remains held at the Weber County Jail.
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