Woman asks judge to suppress evidence found in what she calls illegal search of her St. Croix home

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ST. CROIX - A woman arrested in June on charges that she was growing marijuana at her home with the intention of selling it, has filed a motion to suppress all the evidence found during a search of the home, saying local and federal authorities unlawfully entered her property and removed items.

Gail Leung was arrested June 5 and charged with a single count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

On Tuesday, Leung, through her attorney, Federal Public Defender Omodare Jupiter, filed a motion requesting that the court prohibit the prosecution from introducing during trial any of the physical evidence that was obtained at her house. She said the items collected from her home were a result of illegal searches and seizures and are in violation of her constitutional rights.

In support of the suppression motions, Jupiter said it is his opinion that if an evidentiary hearing was to be held in the matter, he and his client would be able to prove that there were material omissions and false material statements made in the affidavit that supported the search warrant.

He said his agents were in the area investigating another possible violation of the law and came upon Leung's home, which is completely gated and fenced. Jupiter said it was clear to law enforcement officials that the home was inhabited, but that at the time the officers went there, there was no one at the home and no one gave them permission to enter the premises or remove items, which they did without a warrant.

He said because of the search and seizure of items that was unlawful, he requests that the items found as the result of the seizures and searches be suppressed.

According to the affidavit in support of the warrant for Leung's arrest, V.I. Police Officer Donnell Samuel, who is assigned to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, discovered the illegal drugs on May 28.

In the court document, police said they were conducting an unrelated investigation with a federal agent when they saw several marijuana plants growing behind a Mount Pleasant residence.

According to the police report, the findings were reported and District Magistrate Judge George Cannon issued a federal search warrant.

When agents arrived at the home to serve the warrant, they knocked on the door and announced their presence for several minutes, and when there was no response, they forced their way into the home, as authorized by the warrant, the report stated.

During the search of the home and its surroundings, officers found processed marijuana inside the house as well as plants inside the home and in three tents outside, according to police.

Agents found 198 marijuana plants under the tents; two marijuana plants and 663 gross grams of processed marijuana in a clear plastic bag in the living room; a quart-size bag with empty "dime bags" in a living room cabinet; planting pots in an outdoor storage room; and documents belonging to Leung, including for her vehicle and insurance, bank statements, check stubs and other items.

Based on the identification documents, as well as women's clothing and accessories that were in the house, agents concluded only Leung lived in the home.

Leung remains released on $25,000 unsecured bond pending the outcome of the case.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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