Company Loses Bid to Plead 5th & Hide Records

     (CN) – Metro Equipment Corp. can’t plead the Fifth Amendment to conceal its payroll records, the Massachusetts Court of Appeals ruled.

     Metro refused to comply with a request from the state attorney general for payroll records. The attorney general responded by issuing a civil citation of $1,000 per day.
     Metro claimed that the commonwealth violated its Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, and its Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure.
     The Division of Administrative Law Appeals (DALA) upheld the civil citation, and Judge Meade affirmed the DALA’s decision.
     Metro argued that its Fifth Amendment rights were violated because the Attorney General did not specify whether it was conducting a civil or criminal investigation.
     “The Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination is a personal privilege that does not extend to a corporation or its records,” Meade wrote. “A records custodian may not resist a proper government demand on the ground that the act of production itself would be self-incriminating.”
     Meade also rejected Metro’s Fourth Amendment claim.
     “The Attorney General never entered upon Metro’s premises to conduct an inspection or search, nor did he attempt to do so,” the judge wrote.

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