Judge rules ‘Slumdog Billionaire’ code name did not taint case

A federal magistrate Friday criticized drug agents for their insensitivity in naming an undercover investigation of an Indian-born physician “Operation Slumdog Billionaire.”

But in his written findings, U.S. Magistrate Judge George Foley Jr. also said race did not play a role in the decision to target the physician, Vinay Bararia.

Foley refused to give Bararia’s defense lawyers a hearing to pursue the racial claims further in a bid to suppress wiretaps as evidence against Bararia in the case.

The attorneys claimed agents withheld the derogatory code-name of the investigation from the judges who approved the wiretaps and provided the judges with other misleading information.

Bararia, who is facing felony charges of unlawfully distributing painkillers, is to stand trial on Oct. 8.

The investigation’s name was a takeoff of the 2009 Oscar-winning movie, “Slumdog Millionaire,” which portrays a young man living in a Mumbai slum trying to win a game show.

“The DEA’s choice of “Slumdog Billionaire” as the name for its criminal investigation of defendant Bararia can reasonably be viewed as offensive to persons of Indian or Hindu origin,” Foley wrote. “The agents who selected or approved the use of this name for the investigation should therefore be condemned for their poor judgment.”

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