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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Court Of Appeals Reverses Decision Suppressing Evidence In Fentanyl Case Involving An Overdose Death

CONTACT:  Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX #:            (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The United States Attorney’s Office announced today that the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has reversed an order suppressing statements made by a suspect charged in a federal indictment with possessing with intent to distribute and distributing fentanyl that resulted in death. As part of an investigation into the February 28, 2015, overdose death of a Hamburg man at his home, a Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force Agent, on March 4, 2015, conducted an interview of defendant John Haak at the Hamburg Police Station.  During that interview, Haak made incriminating statements. The District Court concluded that Haak’s statements were coerced and therefore subject to suppression on the ground that they had been obtained in violation of defendant’s Fifth Amendment rights. 

The government appealed the district court’s order suppressing the statements to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  On October 4, 2017, United States Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. personally argued the government’s appeal before a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit. In a lengthy written opinion issued today, the Circuit Judges of the Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with the government’s argument that Haak’s statements had been both constitutionally and voluntarily obtained. In so doing, the Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s order suppressing Haak’s statements and remanded the case back to the district court for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.

Updated March 8, 2018