By Kevin Deutsch
An NYPD captain accused of improperly delaying a Breathalyzer test in order to help an intoxicated detective has lost a legal battle to keep the contents of his work phone secret, Bronx Justice News has learned.
Bronx Supreme Court Justice April Newbauer rejected Captain Naoki Yaguchi’s motion to suppress cell phone site location and other data, including text, emails, and call information, as part of a recent ruling in Yaguchi’s case.
Yaguchi’s lawyers had argued the NYPD never warned him his work phone data would not be kept private, and that prosecutors illegally obtained the records without a warrant.
But Newbauer ruled the Bronx District Attorney’s Office obtained the records legally after subpoenas were issued to both AT&T and the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau.
“The NYPD collects and maintains GPS data on all NYPD issued cell phones which are then automatically stored by NYPD,” the judge wrote. “The GPS information that the People originally requested was not provided by AT&T but rather by NYPD. The data was collected by NYPD and a report was generated and provided to the People on consent of NYPD.”
The NYPD patrol guide issued in May of 2015 states that NYPD members “do not maintain any rights of privacy in any feature, including the GPS information, and that the NYPD may provide this information to the People or other entities as noticed,” the opinion said.
Yaguchi, a 13-year veteran of the department, faces up to a year in jail on charges of official misconduct and obstructing governmental administration. Prosecutors say he improperly delayed a Breathalyzer test for off-duty Detective Efrain Medina following a car accident on Fordham Road in April 2017.
Prosecutors allege that Yaguchi, the duty captain that night, sent a supervisor to pick Medina up from the scene — then intentionally had his breath test delayed more than two hours, which is outside the NYPD’s department-mandated “observation period,” records show.
Medina was arrested for DWI, but the Breathalyzer delay led the DA’s Office to deem the results insufficient to prosecute him on that charge. He pleaded guilty to driving while impaired, which is a violation rather than a crime, records show.
Yaguchi’s lawyers argued he had “unfettered discretion to have a suspect tested at any time, and that a mere deviation from Patrol Guide procedures should not give rise to criminal charges.”
Newbauer disagreed, ruling that “evidence presented to the grand jury sufficiently established that defendant used his position of power to prevent the detective from being subjected to arrest and a DWI test within two hours of the vehicle accident with the goal of avoiding criminal charges. Among other things, the defendant is alleged to have approved a delayed time of arrest.”
The detective’s motives, according to prosecutors, were “to curry favor with fellow officer,” whom Yaguchi relied on for “productivity and protection…as well as to avoid condemnation and the perception that he is an officer who turns on fellow officers and cooperates with IAB.”
Yaguchi’s union, the Captains Endowment Association, has criticized Bronx DA Darcel Clark for prosecuting the case.
“Never before has an on-duty uniformed patrol Duty Captain been criminally indicted for making good faith administrative decisions related to an investigation they were conducting,” Roy Richter, president of the union, wrote in a letter to members last year.
Yaguchi, the executive officer of the 40th precinct in South Bronx at the time of the incident, was released without bail following his February 2018 arrest. He has pleaded not guilty.
Efforts to reach him Tuesday were unsuccessful.
He is due back in Bronx Supreme Court April 29.