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Man gets 12 years in case tested broad search warrants

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RICHMOND, Va. (UKTN) – A Virginia man has been sentenced to nearly 12 years in prison for federal bank robbery in a case that tested the constitutionality of extended search warrants that use Google’s location history to identify people near the accident scene found. a crime.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Okello Chatrie, 27, was convicted Wednesday of the 2019 robbery of the Call Federal Credit Union in Midlothian.

Chatrie’s lawyers had argued that using a “geofence warrant” to identify people near the robbery scene violated their constitutional protections against unreasonable searches. Federal prosecutors argued that Chatrie had no reasonable expectation of privacy since he voluntarily opted in to Google’s location history.

U.S. District Judge Hannah Lauck ruled in March that the arrest warrant violated the Constitution by collecting the location histories of 19 cell phones — including Chatrie’s — near the bank at the time of the robbery without any evidence that their owners had anything to do with the crime. . Geofence orders seek location data about any person within a specific location over a period of time.

But Lauck rejected Chatrie’s request to suppress the evidence provided by the warrant, finding that the detective had acted in good faith by consulting prosecutors before applying for the warrant, and relied on his previous experience in obtaining the warrant. of three similar warrants.

Privacy advocates said Lauck’s ruling that the warrant violated constitutional protections against unreasonable searches could make it harder for police to continue using a popular investigative technique that has helped them find suspects in a crime list. in the entire country.

On Wednesday, Lauck denied a defense request for a lesser sentence for Chatrie, saying there were “too many victims” in the robbery. Prosecutors have said Chatrie demanded cash in a handwritten note, brandished a gun, threatened to kill the family of a bank teller and ordered employees and a customer to the floor.

The sentence Lauck imposed — 141 months — was on the lower end of the discretionary federal sentencing guidelines, which required a term of between 141 and 155 months.

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