United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Katharine T. Buzicky, United States Attorney's Office, 300 South Fourth Street, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55415, for United States of America.
Manvir K. Atwal, Office of the Federal Defender, 300 South Fourth Street, Suite 107, Minneapolis, MN 55415, for Charles Joseph Caya.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
HILDY BOWBEER, Magistrate Judge.
This case came before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for a pretrial motion hearing on June 4, 2015. This case was referred for resolution of pretrial matters pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and District of Minnesota Local Rule 72.1. The Court will address Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained as a Result of Search and Seizure [Doc. No. 19] in this Report and Recommendation. The parties' nondispositive motions were addressed in a separate Order [Doc. No. 25]. As set forth below, the Court recommends that the motion to suppress evidence be denied.
I. Procedural Background
On April 8, 2015, a United States Grand Jury charged Defendant Charles Joseph Caya by Indictment with one count of Distribution of Child Pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2), (b)(1); and one count of Possession of Child Pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(4)(B) and 2252(b)(2). (Indictment at 1-2 [Doc. No. 1].) On May 6, 2015, Defendant filed a motion to suppress physical evidence seized pursuant to a search warrant on the ground that the supporting affidavit did not establish probable cause for the warrant. (Def.'s Mot. Suppress at 1 [Doc. No. 19].) The Government opposed the motion. (Gov't's Resp. at 5-6 [Doc. No. 20].)
The Court held a hearing on the motion to suppress on June 4, 2015, and the Government introduced the search warrant and supporting affidavit into evidence as Government Exhibit 1. In lieu of presenting any specific oral or written argument on the motion, Defendant rested on the record and asked the Court to conduct a "four-corners review."
II. The Search Warrant and Supporting Affidavit
The search warrant at issue was signed on June 26, 2014, by the Honorable Franklin L. Noel, United States Magistrate Judge. (Gov't Ex. 1 at 1.) Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent Glenn A. Moule provided the affidavit in support of the warrant. The Court recounts here only the most relevant facts set forth in the twentythree page affidavit.
Agent Moule's job responsibilities and training as an FBI agent include investigating crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children. (Gov't Ex. 1, Moule Aff. ¶ 1.) Through Agent Moule's experience and training, he knows that computers, the Internet, and other electronic devices have transformed how child pornography is distributed and utilized. ( Id. ¶¶ 6, 14.) Individuals can use the Internet to access, send, and receive a wide variety of information through email and websites. ( Id. ¶ 6.) Individuals who are sexually attracted to children frequently use computers and the Internet to acquire, distribute, and store child pornography. ( Id. ¶ 16.)
On May 1, 2014, an undercover FBI agent, using a computer connected to the Internet, located another computer sharing files the agent believed to contain child pornography, based on matching keywords or hash value comparison searches. ( Id. ¶ 19.) The agent downloaded a compressed file, which, when uncompressed, was found to contain 473 image files and 3 video files, the majority of which depicted child pornography. ( Id. ) The agent recorded the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the computer from which the files were downloaded as 22.214.171.124. ( Id. ¶ 20.) Agent Moule also viewed the files and confirmed the majority depicted child pornography. ( Id. ) On May 12, 2014, the downloaded files were provided to the Law Enforcement Services Portal of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which confirmed that 472 of the 476 files depicted a previously identified victim. ( Id. ¶ 21.)
Information obtained through the American Registry of Internet Numbers showed that the IP address 126.96.36.199 was assigned to the Internet Service Provider (ISP) Hickory Tech/Enventis. ( Id. ¶ 22.) By means of an administrative subpoena, Agent Moule learned that IP address 188.8.131.52 was accessed on May 1, 2014, by an account subscribed to by Chuck Caya, with an address of 1xx W. Serra Street, Mankato, Minnesota 56001, and a telephone number of (507) 388-17xx. ( Id. ¶ 23.) Through further investigation, Agent Moule learned that 1xx West Serra Street was not a valid address, but 1xx Serra Street was. ( Id. ¶ 24.) Public records revealed that Charles Joseph Caya was the resident and listed owner of 1xx Serra Street, Mankato, Minnesota 56001, and his telephone number was (507) 388-17xx. ( Id. ¶ 25.) Defendant's driver's license also listed 1xx Serra Street, Mankato, Minnesota 56001, as his address. ( Id. ¶ 26.) On June 3, 2014, Agent Moule conducted surveillance on 1xx Serra Street and saw two cars registered to Defendant parked in the driveway. ( Id. ¶ 27.) Based on the foregoing, Agent Moule believed that evidence of or relating to child pornography would be found at 1xx Serra Street. ( Id. ¶ 28 & Attachs. A, B.)
The sole ground for suppression presented in Defendant's motion was that Agent Moule's affidavit did not provide probable cause for the warrant. The Court construes Defendant's request at the hearing for a "four-corners review" also as a challenge to probable cause. See United States v. Edwards, 180 F.Appx. 618, 619 (8th Cir. 2006) (deciding whether "information within the four corners of the affidavit submitted in support of the search warrant application established probable cause"); United States v. Leichtling, 684 F.2d 553, 555 (8th Cir. 1982) (stating ...