According to a HousingWire report, the FBI placed the microphones inside light fixtures and at a bus stop, among other locations around an Oakland courthouse. The agency – which placed the microphones without a warrant – was hoping to obtain evidence that investors were fixing local foreclosure auctions, HousingWire reported.
The feds apparently found the evidence they were looking for, because they’re now attempting to use the recordings to help convict the suspected investors.
But defense attorneys insist that the warrantless recordings should be tossed.
“Speaking in a public place does not mean that the individual has not reasonable expectation of privacy,” a lawyer for one of the accused investors told CBS affiliate KPIX 5. “…Private communication in a public place qualifies as protected ‘oral communication’ … and therefore may not be intercepted without judicial authorization.”
FBI agents reportedly planted hidden microphones around the San Francisco area in an attempt to gather evidence against several real estate investors suspected of rigging bids at foreclosure auctions.