Allen v. United States Department of Interior
ORDER denying 1 Motion to Quash. Signed by Honorable Patrick Michael Duffy on December 28, 2016.(jmcg, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Latanya P. Allen,
United States Department of the Interior,
C.A. No.: 2:16-mc-470-PMD
This matter is before the Court on Movant Latanya Allen’s motion to challenge the
Government’s access to her financial records (ECF No. 1). For the reasons set forth herein, Mrs.
Allen’s motion is denied.
BACKGROUND & PROCEDURAL HISTORY
This action arises out the Government’s investigation of Latanya Allen’s husband,
Michael Allen, who is an employee of the National Parks Service.
According to the
Government, Mr. Allen solicited honoraria payments as compensation for speaking engagements
he performed as a National Parks Service employee, thereby illegally supplementing his salary in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 209. Mr. Allen uses the name Allen Consultant Firm when speaking to
outside groups. According to the Government, that firm falls under the umbrella of a nonprofit
entity run by Mrs. Allen.
The Government initially notified Mr. Allen that it planned to issue an administrative
subpoena to South State Bank seeking production of his bank account records. The Government
believed that the South State account was Mr. Allen’s personal bank account because his
government paychecks were direct deposited into it. Upon receipt of the notice, Mr. Allen
challenged it on the grounds that the South State account was his wife’s account and belonged
solely to her. As a result, the Government agreed to withdraw the proposed administrative
subpoena. Then, on November 17, 2016, the Government sent Mrs. Allen a notice at her home
address seeking records for her South State bank account that received Mr. Allen’s government
paychecks. 1 Mrs. Allen filed her motion challenging the proposed administrative subpoena on
November 30, 2016, and the Government responded on December 13. Accordingly, this matter
is now ripe for consideration.
A financial institution’s customer “may file a motion to quash an administrative
summons or judicial subpoena, or an application to enjoin a Government authority from
obtaining financial records pursuant to a formal written request.” 12 U.S.C. § 3410(a). The
Court must deny the customer’s motion if it finds “that there is a demonstrable reason to believe
that the law enforcement inquiry is legitimate and reasonable belief that the records sought are
relevant to that inquiry.” 12 U.S.C. § 3410(c).
Mrs. Allen presents only one argument in her motion. She claims that she is not a
National Parks Service employee, she has no connection to the Department of the Interior, and
therefore South State Bank cannot be compelled to produce her financial records. The Court
disagrees. First, the Court finds that the law enforcement inquiry here is legitimate because,
among other things, the Government has discovered that Mr. Allen allegedly solicited and
received honoraria and other payments from outside groups for giving speeches as a National
Parks Service employee. Mrs. Allen’s bank records are relevant to that legitimate inquiry
because Mr. Allen’s government paychecks are regularly deposited into Mrs. Allen’s bank
1. Mrs. Allen’s relevant account is held in her name only. It is unclear whether she holds any other bank accounts
at South State.
account. It is therefore reasonable to believe that any payments from outside groups would also
be deposited in Mrs. Allen’s account. Moreover, Mr. Allen’s firm falls under the umbrella of
Mrs. Allen’s nonprofit organization, potentially making her account even more relevant to the
Government’s investigation. The Government states that it is not interested in any of Mrs.
Allen’s other accounts, only the one that receives Mr. Allen’s government paychecks.
Accordingly, because there is a demonstrable reason to believe that the Government’s inquiry is
legitimate and because Mrs. Allen’s bank account is highly relevant to that inquiry, the Court
concludes that Mrs. Allen’s motion must be denied.
For the foregoing reasons, it is ORDERED that Mrs. Allen’s motion to challenge the
Government’s access to her financial records is DENIED.
AND IT IS SO ORDERED.
December 28, 2016
Charleston, South Carolina
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