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United States v. Needham

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

August 26, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES PATRICK NEEDHAM, Defendant.

Laura M. Provinzino, Assistant United States Attorney, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, 600 United States Courthouse, 300 South Fourth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55415, for plaintiff.

Douglas Olson, Assistant Federal Defender, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL DEFENDER, 300 South Fourth Street, Suite 107, Minneapolis, MN 55415, for defendant.

ORDER ADOPTING REPORT & RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

JOHN R. TUNHEIM, District Judge.

Defendant James Patrick Needham faces one count of possession of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(4)(B), and one count of distribution of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2). (Indictment, May 6, 2013, Docket No. 1.) Needham moved to suppress evidence gathered at his residence on the ground that the search warrant failed to establish probable cause. (Mot. to Suppress, May 21, 2013, Docket No. 21.) United States Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois issued a Report & Recommendation ("R&R") recommending that the Court deny Needham's motion. (R&R, July 8, 2013, Docket No. 33.) Needham filed timely objections to the R&R. (Objections, July 22, 2013, Docket No. 35.) Because the Court finds that the issuance of the warrant complied with the Fourth Amendment, the Court will overrule Needham's objections and adopt the R&R.

BACKGROUND

Needham's motion to suppress involves evidence collected pursuant to a search warrant that was issued by United States Magistrate Judge Mary Kay Klein on July 14, 2011, and executed on July 21, 2011. Special Agent Joe A. Ogden of the Federal Bureau of Investigation provided the sworn affidavit that accompanied the application for the warrant, the purpose of which was to search Needham's residence at 15985 Crossroads Avenue, Red Lake, Minnesota, and seize evidence related to child pornography. (Aff. of Joe A. Ogden ¶¶ 4-5, July 14, 2011.)[1]

The affidavit explains that in approximately August 2010, the FBI began investigating numerous reports of child pornography being posted on various groups on the social networking platform GROU.PS. ( Id. ¶ 12.) Federal search warrants were issued to discover information relating to twelve groups that contained child pornography, including a group entitled http://grou.ps/boy2kid. ( Id. ¶¶ 13-14.) GROU.PS provided the Internet Protocol ("IP") address from which each piece of child pornography was posted, and administrative subpoenas were sent to various internet service providers to identify which individual subscribers were assigned the IP addresses associated with the child pornography. ( Id. ¶¶ 15-16.) The data revealed that a GROU.PS member under the username "Rezchub61" posted eleven images, some of which appeared to be child pornography, to the website on August 4, 2010, from the IP address 209.191.208.245 (the "209 IP address"). ( Id. ¶¶ 17-18.)

Publicly available information revealed that the 209 IP address was assigned to Paul Bunyan Communications ("Paul Bunyan"). ( Id. ¶ 18.) Investigators served an administrative subpoena on Paul Bunyan and learned that the 209 IP address was used by multiple Paul Bunyan customers. ( Id. ) To determine which Paul Bunyan customer uploaded the content in question, investigators sought to discover whether the 209 IP address ever connected with an IP address assigned to GROU.PS. ( Id. ¶ 19.) In response to another administrative subpoena, Paul Bunyan determined that the 209 IP address connected to the IP address 208.43.134.240 (the "208 IP address"), which was the IP address assigned to GROU.PS. ( Id. ¶ 20.) During the dates and times that content had been uploaded by rezchub61, Paul Bunyan's records identified a single customer, James Needham, that connected to the 208 IP address from the 209 IP address. ( Id. ) Paul Bunyan's records further indicated that Needham accessed the 208 IP address from the 209 IP address multiple times on August 4, 2010, which corresponded to the eleven images posted by rezchub61 to GROU.PS. ( Id. ¶ 21-22.)

Pursuant to federal search warrants, GROU.PS also provided the email account associated with the username "rezchub61, " which was supplied by the user when the user created the GROU.PS account. ( Id. ¶¶ 14-15.) That email account was rezchub61@yahoo.com. ( Id. ¶ 23.) Administrative subpoenas were sent to Yahoo! to identify the accountholder and access logs for the email account rezchub61@yahoo.com. ( Id. ) Yahoo!'s records indicated that Rick Needham was the listed accountholder for the email address rezchub61@yahoo.com, but that James Needham was the listed accountholder for an alternative email address as "redchub61@yahoo.com." ( Id. )

Paul Bunyan's records did not show a physical address for James Needham, but did indicate that Needham lived on the Red Lake Indian Reservation and that Needham's mailing address was a post office box in Red Lake, Minnesota 56671. ( Id. ¶¶ 21, 24.) Paul Bunyan provided a map depicting their service area, which showed Needham's residence was on Crossroads Avenue. ( Id. ¶ 24.) On May 25, 2011, a Red Lake Criminal Investigator spoke with James Needham at his known residence at 15985 Crossroads Avenue in Red Lake, Minnesota. ( Id. ¶ 25.) James Needham told the investigator that he lived in the residence at that address. ( Id. ¶ 25.) The Red Lake Director of Tribal Engineering also informed Special Agent Ogden that James Needham lived in a modular home at 15985 Crossroads Avenue. ( Id. ¶ 26.)

On the basis of this information, the magistrate judge issued the warrant on July 14, 2011, and the warrant was executed on July 21, 2011. Officers seized a computer, a laptop, a floppy disk, and a Paul Bunyan bill from James Needham's residence.

ANALYSIS

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), the Court may refer a motion to suppress evidence in a criminal case to a magistrate judge for proposed findings of fact and recommendations. The Court reviews de novo the portions of the R&R to which a ...


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