ST. LOUIS (CN) – The FBI did not need a warrant to secretly install a GPS tracking device on a St. Louis City Treasurer’s Office employee accused of not showing up for work, a federal judge ruled.
Fred Robinson, 69, is accused of stealing more than $250,000 of public money from the Paideia Academy charter school to start a day-care business, and of taking as much as $175,000 from his job in Treasurer Larry Williams’ office, where he was allegedly a no-show.
Robinson was indicted in September on one count of wire fraud and seven counts of federal program theft.
Robinson’s lawyer argued that the GPS results should not be allowed for several reasons, including the agents’ failure to get a warrant and violations of his Constitutional rights.
But U.S. Magistrate Judge David Noce disagreed, finding that appellate courts have found use of the tracking devices legal, even though the U.S. Supreme Court is still deciding the issue.
“The 8th Circuit held that the agents did not need a warrant prior to installing and using the GPS tracker device,” Noce wrote. “The court explained, ‘when police have reasonable suspicion that a particular vehicle is transporting drugs, a warrant is not required when, while the vehicle is parked in a public place, they install a non-invasive GPS tracking device on it for a reasonable period of time.’ Because installation of the GPS tracker device was non-invasive and because the agents installed the device when the truck was parked in public, installation of the GPS tracker device was not a search.”
Robinson failed to win dismissal of four counts of his indictment and failed to get his trial split into two parts. Robinson’s attorney had argued that the trial should be split so as not to prejudice the jury by hearing allegations involving unrelated charges.