United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
T. NUMBERS, II UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Leonid Teyf asks the court to quash a grand jury subpoena
that requires him to produce certain bank records in his
possession, custody, and control. He claims that the subpoena
is unreasonable and oppressive in its scope and that
requiring him to produce the requested documents would
violate his constitutional rights. The Government responds
that there is nothing exceptional about the subpoena's
request and that circuit precedent precludes Teyf's
constitutional arguments. Ultimately, the Government has the
better argument and thus the court will deny the motion to
jury returned a thirty-six count Superseding Indictment
against Teyf in early February 2019. D.E. 127. Charges
against him include bribery of a public official, murder for
hire, money laundering, and visa fraud. Finding that there
were no conditions of release that could reasonably assure
the the safety of the community, the court order Teyf's
detainment pending trial. D.E. 68.
Teyf's indictment, the Grand Jury has continued to
investigate him. As part of that investigation, the Grand
Jury issued a subpoena directing Teyf to produce “[a]ny
and all records in [his] possession, custody or control that
are required to be maintained pursuant to 31 C.F.R. §
1010.420 … for the past five years” related to
certain foreign financial accounts. D.E. 175-1. Teyf now
challenges the subpoena and seeks to have it quashed. D.E.
grand juries may issue subpoenas as part of their
investigative authority. United States v. R. Enters.,
Inc., 498 U.S. 292, 297 (1991). But while the grand
jury's subpoena power is broad, it is “not
unlimited.” Id. at 299. A grand jury may not
“engage in arbitrary fishing expeditions, nor may they
select targets of investigation out of malice or an intent to
harass.” Id. And a subpoena recipient may seek
to have a subpoena quashed “if compliance would be
unreasonable or oppressive.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(c).
court considers a challenge to a subpoena, it must keep in
mind that the Supreme Court has established a presumption
that “a grand jury subpoena issued through normal
channels” is reasonable. R. Enters., 498 U.S.
at 300. Thus, the party seeking to avoid responding to the
subpoena bears “the burden of showing
this framework in mind, the court will consider each of
Teyf's arguments against the subpoena.
first challenges the subpoena on the grounds as unreasonable
because of the circumstances confronting him as he tries to
respond to the grand jury's request. He begins by
pointing out that he “does not speak English and is
incarcerated with sporadic access to his attorneys and very
little access to anyone else.” Memorandum in Support at
5, D.E. 175. He then claims that neither he nor his attorneys
“have had a chance to review any of the documents or
data seized by the Government from [his] home.”
Id. at 5-6. He finally claims that the grand jury
should ask the various financial institutions he banked with
to produce the records before seeking them from him. Upon
review, none of these arguments are persuasive.
while Teyf's language issues and detention no doubt
present challenges, he has not shown how or why these issues
prevent him from responding to the subpoenas. Teyf has not
claimed that he cannot communicate with his attorneys. There
is thus no reason to believe that Teyf cannot explain to his
attorneys where he kept responsive records or what financial
institutions might be able to provide copies. Nor has Teyf
shown that there is something unique or complex about his
method of record keeping that places the task of searching
for responsive documents beyond his attorneys' abilities.
There is no reason for the court to find that these issues
make responding to the subpoena unreasonable.
court is also unpersuaded by Teyf's argument about his
attorney's access to seized materials. To begin with, the
subpoena calls for production of documents in his possession,
custody, and control. If the Government has seized responsive
documents and not made them available to Teyf, they would be
outside his possession, custody, and control, and thus he
would need not produce them. More importantly, the Government
maintains that Teyf's attorneys have had access to all
the physical evidence seized by the Government since December
2018 and, as of early February 2019, they have not requested
to review it. Resp. to Mot. to Quash at 3, D.E. 181. Under
these facts, the court cannot conclude that the subpoena is
either burdensome or oppressive.
concludes this portion of his motion by arguing that the
Government could obtain the records it seeks through the
Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (“MLAT”), which
allows countries to facilitate legal proceedings involving
foreign parties without having to resort to letters rogatory.
In re Grand Jury Subpoena, 646 F.3d 159, 165 (4th
Cir. 2011). “[T]hese treaties provide for bilateral,
mutual assistance in the gathering of legal evidence for use
by the requesting state in criminal investigations and
proceedings.” In re Premises Located at 840 140th
Ave. NE, Bellevue, Wash., 634 F.3d 557, 564 (9th Cir.
Fourth Circuit has addressed this argument and concluded
“the existence of an alternative means of obtaining
information is insufficient to render a subpoena unreasonable
or subpoenaed material irrelevant to a grand jury
investigation.” In re Grand Jury, John Doe No.
G.J.2005-2, 478 F.3d 581, 587 (4th Cir. 2007). So the
fact that the Government could seek the documents it ...