Federal court dismisses part of Eagan family's lawsuit over border security

   A federal judge dismissed part of an Eagan family’s lawsuit against the federal government reasoning there is not a fundamental right to travel internationally.
   U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank denied most of the federal government’s requests to dismiss claims stemming from the March 2015 detention of Eagan residents Abdisalam Wilwal, Sagal Abdigani, and their four children at the Canadian border. The family claims it was detained because Wilwal’s name was on a federal terrorist watchlist. The government has not confirmed the watchlist allegation.
   The family had been warned before they crossed into Canada that they could face additional questioning when they returned to the United States. The family, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, is suing the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Attorney General, the FBI, the director of the federal Terrorist Screening Center, and the United States of America, according to court documents.
   In a recent opinion, the federal court allowed the plaintiffs to continue litigating most of their claims against the government, but dismissed a claim asserting a right to international travel. “Mr. Wilwal bases his substantive due process claim on his right to international travel. But the right to international travel is not a fundamental right,” Judge Frank wrote. “Because the Government’s actions do not implicate a fundamental right, Mr. Wilwal has failed to state a claim for substantive due process violations.”
    In its reasoning, the federal court noted the distinction between the right to travel within the United States and security restrictions that can be placed on international travel.   

Detroit woman staying at Eagan hotel charged with identity theft at local home improvement store

      A Detroit woman is facing a felony identity theft charge based on allegations she impersonated credit card holders to steal merchandise worth thousands of dollars from several Menards stores while operating from a base in an Eagan hotel room.
      Jasmine Williams, 30, of 1131 Belleterre St., Detroit, was being held at the Dakota County jail on a charge of identity theft, according to court records. Williams was arrested October 2 by police investigating a report of fraud at the West St. Paul Menards store. Her capture prompted a police search of her room at an unnamed Eagan hotel where police allegedly discovered further evidence of crime.
      Police were called to the store on a report of fraud, according to court records. The female suspect had left by the time police arrived, but investigators had a description and a license plate number. When police spotted the suspect’s car, they stopped it, after an apparent attempt to evade police, according to a criminal complaint.
      Once the car was stopped, according to police, “the officer immediately detected the strong odor of fresh marijuana coming from the vehicle and observed a large amount of Menards merchandise in the back seat.”
      Williams originally told police that she was buying items for her mother, who had let her use her account, according to investigators. She allegedly also told police she was staying with her aunt in St. Paul.
      Police discovered that six Menards had suffered fraud and that a woman had used “multiple accounts at multiple stores resulting in thousands of dollars in fraudulent transactions,” according to the criminal complaint.
      Inside the car, police found merchandise, receipts and a hotel key, according to court records. Police searched the room at the Eagan hotel, the name of which was not disclosed. Police routinely withhold the name of Eagan hotels and businesses where crimes occur.
      Inside the hotel room, police reported finding Williams’ actual driver’s license, not the one she provided to police. In the same nightstand, police also allegedly found credit cards in others’ names. Police also allegedly found gift cards, a debit card without a name on it, and documents identifying Williams in a backpack in the hotel room, according to the complaint.
      Police also reported finding an airline boarding pass showing Williams flew from Detroit to Minneapolis Oct. 1 and a journal allegedly detailing criminal activity.
      Police discovered, on further investigation, that unnamed suspects would apply for Menards “Big” cards using information from victims. The suspects would, according to police, place a hold on victims’ mail for a short period to prevent them from receiving notice of the credit card. The store would allow people to make purchases without the actual card by providing the victims’ names and social security numbers.
      Menards reported more than $12,000 in fraudulent transactions in a two-day period between Oct. 1 and 2, according to court documents. Fraudulent transactions were reported at stores in Apple Valley, Burnsville, Golden Valley, and West St. Paul.
      Police allege Williams made more than $18,000 worth of purchases at Menards. Police reported contacting two of the alleged victims, who told police they hadn’t authorized opening the accounts and did not know Williams.
      Before his retirement last June, Eagan’s former police chief James McDonald warned city councilors of criminals from outside the area targeting local retailers.
Police reported finding evidence of identity theft in the Eagan hotel room of Detroit resident Jasmine Williams, pictured above.