Judge dismisses charges against trio

April 1, 2013

A district judge dismissed charges filed last month against three people in a sport utility vehicle stopped for a traffic violation who reportedly had a large amount of cash and were suspected of dealing in fraudulent or stolen credit cards.

Charges of dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities and conspiracy against Isaac Isiiag Kaba, 22, of Shawnee, Kan., Roukayatou Halidou Seydou of the Bronx, N.Y., and Bubakarr Jalloh, 25, of Kansas City, Kan., were dismissed Monday by District Judge Jay Weller.

Jalloh, however, was ordered to stand trial on charges of false identification to police and possession of marijuana. He identified himself to police as Barry Boubacar, 27, of the Bronx, at the time of his arrest. The marijuana charges filed against the other two were dismissed.

Trooper Justin Coda, who filed the charges, was monitoring traffic on Interstate 70 in South Strabane Township when he noticed a sport utility vehicle closely following another vehicle in the westbound lanes. He stopped the vehicle, driven by Jalloh, near the Murtland Avenue exit.

Coda, who said he has received specialized training in highway interdiction from the state police and federal Drug Enforcement Agency, said there were numerous indicators of suspicious activity.

“They were nervous, and their travel plans conflicted,” Coda said. “They said they were going to Kansas City to pick up a flight, but there was not enough luggage.”

Coda said he also learned the Secret Service had the three under investigation.

Both Jalloh and Kaba, who rented the vehicle, allowed police to conduct a search. During an initial search, Coda said he found about $8,000 inside Seydou’s purse. Jalloh also had about $2,000 in his pocket, Coda said.

During a more thorough search, police said they found a computer, cellphones, receipts, gift cards and black credit cards, along with a small amount of marijuana. Coda said Seydou had also torn up a piece of paper that appeared to contain credit card numbers. Coda also testified he had not yet checked the authenticity of the cash or cards.

Attorney Thomas Brown, who represented Kaba, argued there was a lack of definitive evidence and asked that the case against his client be dismissed. He said the trooper put the “cart before the horse” because there was no evidence the cards were fraudulent.

Public defender Kristin Fiori, who represented Seydou, said her client has no criminal record and nothing linking her to any crimes, other than the fact that she was in the vehicle. Joseph Francis, who represents Jalloh, said his client’s only unlawful activity was the fake identification and marijuana possession.

Assistant district attorney John Friedmann argued that enough evidence had been presented to hold the three for trial.

But Weller disagreed.

“There is plenty of smoke and reasonable suspicion,” Weller said. “However, there is no evidence they were dealing in the proceeds of unlawful activity.”

Weller told the trooper he has the option of refiling charges.

Jalloh was returned to the Washington County jail, where he has been held since his arrest on $25,000 bond. An immigration detainer also was placed on him.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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