Lanier v. Department of Defense
ORDER granting 4 Motion to Dismiss; denying 1 Motion to Quash. Signed by Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker on 4/29/11 (RLW)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
CHRISTOPHER M. LANIER
CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:11mc34-LG-RHW
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Before the Court are  the motion of Christopher M. Lanier to quash a government
subpoena seeking Lanier’s bank records,  the Department of Defense’s (DoD) motion to
dismiss the motion to quash, and  Lanier’s response to the motion to dismiss. Following
review of all motion pleadings, memoranda and applicable law, the Court finds the motion to
quash should be denied, and the motion to dismiss the motion to quash, granted.
Pursuant to 12 U.S.C. § 3405, and in furtherance of an investigation by the Air Force
Office of Special Investigations, the DoD issued an administrative subpoena to JP Morgan Chase
Bank for production of records1 of a specifically identified account held by Christopher M.
Lanier, a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserve. In keeping with the requirements of § 3405(2),
a copy of the subpoena was mailed to Lanier the same day it was issued, January 5, 2011, along
with instructions and forms for challenging the subpoena should he so desire. A bank customer
seeking to challenge issuance of such a subpoena must file his motion to quash within ten days of
service or within fourteen days of mailing of the subpoena, in this case by January 19, 2011. 12
U.S.C. § 3410(a).
The subpoena calls for monthly statements sent to the account holder, correspondence with the account
holder, deposit records, withdrawal records, wire transfer records, records of ATM transactions, and of debit and
credit card transactions, copies of checks written on the account and/or deposited into the account, records reflecting
account ownership during the stated period (1/1/2006-10/31/2010), and loans and loan applications. [3-2, p. 2]
Lanier filed his motion to quash on January 26, 2011, claiming the records sought are
irrelevant to the investigation of allegations that Lanier fraudulently claimed/received payments
of Family Separation Allowance and per diem from January 2006 until October 2010. Lanier
contends the government already possesses records of payments to him of Family Separation
Allowance and per diem, that his JP Morgan Chase Bank account was not used to receive direct
deposits from the military, and that the DoD is merely conducting a fishing expedition into his
The DoD responded on February 4, 2011, with  a motion to dismiss Lanier’s motion to
quash on grounds that Lanier’s motion was not filed by January 19, 2011 as required by 12
U.S.C. § 3410(a). The DoD’s motion is also accompanied by the affidavit of Special Agent
Heidi N. Matthews, USAF Office of Special Investigations, which details how Lanier’s bank
records are relevant to its investigation of Lanier.
The Court finds the DoD complied with the provisions of the Right to Financial Privacy
Act (RFPA), 12 U.S.C. §§ 3401, et seq., and finds, based on the Matthews affidavit, that “there is
a demonstrable reason to believe that the law enforcement inquiry underlying the issuance of the
subpoena is legitimate and a reasonable belief that the financial records at issue are relevant to
that law enforcement inquiry.” 12 U.S.C. § 3410(c). The investigation is not limited to whether
Lanier applied for/received the benefits in question, but extends to whether he submitted false
information in order to obtain those benefits. Even Lanier concedes this is a legitimate law
enforcement inquiry. [10, p. 5] As to the relevancy of the records,
For purposes of an administrative subpoena, the notion of relevancy is a broad
one. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Elrod, 674 F.2d 601, 613
(7th Cir.1982). An agency “can investigate merely on the suspicion that the law is
being violated, or even just because it wants assurance that it is not.” Morton Salt,
338 U.S. at 642, 70 S.Ct. at 363, 94 L.Ed. at 410. So long as the material
requested “ ‘touches a matter under investigation,’ ” an administrative subpoena
will survive a challenge that the material is not relevant. Elrod, 674 F.2d at 613
(quoting Motorola v. McLain, 484 F.2d 1339, 1345 (7th Cir.1973), cert. denied,
416 U.S. 936, 94 S.Ct. 1935, 40 L.Ed.2d 287 (1974)).
Sandsend Financial Consultants, Ltd. v. Federal Home Loan Bank Board, 878 F.2d 875, 882 (5th
Cir. 1989). Under this authority, and based on the affidavit of Agent Matthews, the Court finds
Lanier’s bank records are relevant to the investigation, and might well assist in establishing a
time line for Lanier’s activities. It is therefore,
ORDERED, that the motion to dismiss Lanier’s motion to quash is granted, and Lanier’s
motion to quash is denied.
SO ORDERED this the 29th day of April, 2011.
ROBERT H. WALKER
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?