United States District Court, D. Minnesota
M. Kayser, Esq., Assistant United States Attorney, United
States Attorney's Office, St. Paul, MN, on behalf of
Douglas Olson, Esq., Office of the Federal Defender,
Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MONTGOMERY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge
for a ruling on Michael Robert Granley's Objection
[Docket No. 56] to Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois'
November 2, 2016 Report and Recommendation [Docket No. 47]
(“R&R”). In the R&R, Judge Brisbois
recommends denying Granley's Motion to Suppress Evidence
Obtained as a Result of Search and Seizure [Docket No. 31].
After a thorough de novo review of the record and for the
reasons stated below, Granley's Objections are overruled
and Judge Brisbois' R&R is adopted.
January 14, 2016, Investigator Chris Benson
(“Investigator Benson”), of the Clearwater County
Sheriff's Office, received a report from the Waynesboro,
Virginia Police Department concerning a “sexually
charged” online conversation between a 12-year old
female and “Michael Granley, ” an approximately
42-year old male. In the conversation, “Michael
Granley” exchanged sexually explicit messages with the
minor girl, describing male and female genitalia and
suggesting that they engage in sexual acts. Sometime later,
Investigator Benson received a report from the Bemidji Police
Department concerning a different online conversation between
“Michael Granley” and an underage female. In this
conversation, “Michael Granley” requested that
the girl send him sexually explicit photographs of herself.
Investigator Benson noted that the profile photograph for
“Michael Granley” in both conversations was the
investigation by Detective Dunn of the Waynesboro Police
Department uncovered the internet protocol (“IP”)
address used to conduct the first online conversation.
Detective Dunn provided the IP address to Investigator Benson
who, pursuant to a subpoena, discovered that the subscriber
associated with that IP address was Robert Granley located in
Clearbrook, Minnesota. Investigator Benson conducted a
Minnesota driver's licence check for “Michael
Granley” and learned that a “Michael
Granley” was registered at the same Clearbrook address.
Earlier, Investigator Benson phoned the Clearbrook house and
requested to speak with Michael Granley. Although Granley was
not home at the time, Investigator Benson learned that
Michael Granley lived full time at that house with his
parents, Robert and Sandy Granley.
January 19, 2016, Investigator Benson applied for a warrant
to search Granley and the Clearbrook residence for
“electronic devices maintained and/or utilized by
Michael Granley for the purpose of maintaining and/or
collecting of photographs of children for either personal
gratification or trade.” Investigator Benson's
affidavit in support of the warrant application described the
two sexually charged online conversations and specified how
the Clearbrook address and Granley were identified. The
warrant application was approved by Minnesota State District
Court Judge John Melbye.
January 20, 2016, Investigator Benson executed a search of
the Clearbrook home. While nothing was seized and Granley was
absent from the property, Investigator Benson learned from
Granley's parents that Granley was spending the night in
Park Rapids, Minnesota.
January 21, 2016, Granley's vehicle was located by Park
Rapids law enforcement officers. Investigator Benson arrived
in Park Rapids and met with Granley, who agreed to talk to
him. After being shown a copy of the search warrant, Granley
gave his cellular phone and a tablet to Investigator Benson,
who turned the devices over to the Bureau of Criminal
Apprehension (“BCA”) for forensic examination.
forensic examination yielded several other sexually explicit
conversations with underage girls. In one online
conversation, Granley sent a picture of his penis to a
14-year old girl and received a photograph of female breasts.
Based upon this and other information, Investigator Benson
sought and obtained three additional search warrants, one
each for Granley's iCloud account, Facebook account, and
Google account. Through these warrants, Investigator Benson
learned of other conversations Granley had with minor girls,
including one involving a 15-year old girl in Pennsylvania
with whom Granley exchanged sexually explicit photographs and
discussed meeting to have sex.
20, 2016, Granley was indicted on ten counts of transferring
obscene material to a minor, three counts of production of
child pornography, and two counts of attempted production of
child pornography. See Indictment [Docket No. 1]. On
September 9, 2016, Granley moved for the suppression of any
physical evidence obtained as a result of the searches on the
grounds that: 1) the initial search warrant was not supported
by probable cause; 2) the seizure of Granley's cellular
phone and tablet was unlawful and not covered by the warrant;
3) the subsequent search of the cellular phone and tablet
were unlawful, and; 4) the subsequent search warrants are the
tainted fruits of the illegally obtained and searched
cellular phone and tablet and are not otherwise independently
supported by probable cause.
R&R, Judge Brisbois recommends denying the motion,
concluding that the issuing judge for the initial warrant had
probable cause to authorize the searches. Judge Brisbois also
concluded that there was a sufficient nexus between the
evidence sought and the person or property to be searched.
The search of Granley's cellular phone and tablet, Judge
Brisbois reasoned, was permitted by the online nature of the
correspondence between Granley and the underage girls, and