Minot, North Dakota, March 8, 2017 – Earlier this week, a North Dakota district court judge dismissed a liquor sales charge against a Minot motorcycle club. The dismissal came after motions to dismiss were filed by AIM Attorney Justin Vinje and the prosecuting attorney.
The Ice Cold Ryders Motorcycle Club had been charged with engaging in the unlicensed sale of alcohol at their clubhouse. A police investigation of a nearby disturbance during the morning of November 29, 2015, led law enforcement to peer inside the clubhouse during a social gathering.
Inside, officers saw a large number of people socializing and drinking alcoholic beverages. Law enforcement concluded that unlicensed liquor sales were occurring. One officer testified in support of a search warrant, falsely claiming to have also seen a cash register in the clubhouse.
Law enforcement received a search warrant and entered the clubhouse later that morning, seizing the club’s security equipment, sound system, coolers, alcoholic beverages, and paper documents. Law enforcement also froze the club’s bank accounts.
On October 6, 2016, nearly a year after the raid, law enforcement charged the club with the unlicensed sale of alcohol. AIM Attorney Justin Vinje represented the club and requested law enforcement’s investigative reports. Those reports mainly consisted of an analysis of the club’s banking records and an inventory of items seized. The reports also revealed that law enforcement never seized a cash register from the premises.
During the case, a confidential informant with ties to local law enforcement contacted AIM Attorney Justin Vinje. The informant said that law enforcement asked her to attend club gatherings and wear a wireless recording device to capture proof of unlicensed alcohol sales.
The informant wore a wire and attended two club gatherings in the spring of 2016. A SWAT team stood at the ready to raid the club in the event of illegal activity. No unlawful alcohol sales took place, but the government failed to provide any records of this to the defense.
AIM Attorney Justin Vinje filed a motion to dismiss the charge, due to the government’s failure to turn over records related to the confidential informant’s activities. AIM Attorney Justin Vinje also filed a motion to suppress evidence from the search, arguing that law enforcement testified falsely about the presence of a cash register during its application for the search warrant.
Three days later, the government filed a motion to dismiss the charge, citing insufficient evidence to proceed and that dismissal would serve the interest of judicial economy. The case was dismissed.
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