Attorney questions search warrant from June drug arrest

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 October 2013 at 12:00 am

ALBION – The attorney for a woman arrested in June on several drug charges told a judge the search warrant used was based on “stale” evidence.

Shirley Gorman, the attorney for Patricia Nava-Chavez, said law enforcement shouldn’t have searched her bedroom back in June when she was arrested along with seven other people, including her husband, Felix Onofre-Rojas. (Click here for a previous article.)

They lived in Albion at 14691 Zig-Zag Rd. Gorman said investigators observed Onofre-Rojas making drug sales from the location in December 2012 and February 2013. Another person also was witnessed making a drug sale from the house in November 2012, Gorman said in court on Monday.

However, by June 2013, when Albion Town Justice Gary Moore approved a search warrant for the entire house, Gorman said there was no probable cause to search Nava-Chavez’s bedroom. Gorman called the warrant “ambiguous.”

District Attorney Joseph Cardone said law enforcement reported there were 13 drug sales from that location. Onofre-Rojas, 61, admitted in court in August to selling cocaine from the site. He is to be sentenced Oct. 28 for a driving while intoxicated charge from May 4. He could face up to four years in state prison for that charge, his second DWI.

Police believe his wife Nava-Chavez, 44, was an accomplice in the drug sales, but Gorman told Judge Punch she wasn’t involved in that activity.

Punch said he would review the grand jury testimony and could schedule a hearing about whether evidence seized during the search of the house will be admissible.

Cardone also said there is surveillance video of the house that shows Nava-Chavez was involved in the drug sales.

Punch set a court date for 3 p.m. Oct. 21 to again discuss whether evidence from the search warrant can be used in court.