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United States v. Standefer

August 8, 2007

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ERIC DON STANDEFER, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marilyn L. Huff, District Judge United States District Court

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE

On June 4, 2007, defendant Eric Don Standefer ("Defendant") filed a motion to suppress evidence seized from his home. (Doc. No. 22.) On July 16, 2007, the Government filed an opposition to Defendant's motion to suppress evidence. (Doc. No. 24.) On July 19, 2007, Defendant filed a reply. (Doc. No. 25.)

On July 23, 2007, the Court held a hearing regarding Defendant's motion to suppress evidence. Attorney Scott C. Williams appeared for Defendant at the hearing and Assistant United States Attorney Anne Perry appeared for the Government. The Court submitted the motion and ordered that supplemental briefing be filed.

On July 30, 2007, the Government filed a supplemental response in opposition to Defendant's motion to suppress evidence. (Doc. No. 27.) On August 6, 2007, Defendant filed a supplemental reply brief. (Doc. No. 28.) For the following reasons, the Court DENIES Defendant's motion to suppress evidence seized from his home.

Background

During the course of his duties, Special Agent ("SA") Wade Luders from the San Jose Resident Agency of the San Francisco Field Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), identified four internet websites located outside of the United States offering downloadable videos and images of child pornography with a paid subscription. (U.S.' Resp. Opp. Def.'s Mot. Suppress Evidence ("Gov't Opp."), Ex. 1 at 3:13-19.) SA Luders determined that these websites accepted payment via e-gold Ltd. ("e-gold"), a company which allows the instant transfer of gold ownership between users utilizing the internet. (Id. at 1:9-2:5, 3:20-21.) SA Luders selected e-gold as the payment option on one of the pornography websites, which opened an "e-metal Payment Order Form" located on e-gold's website and contained the child pornography site's e-gold account number. (Id. at 3:21-28.) A similar process allowed SA Luders to determine the account numbers of all four websites, which were 2974856, 2973774, 2981290, and 2979416. (Id. at 4:9, 8-13.)

On March 15, 2006, SA Luders served an FBI administrative subpoena upon e-gold, requesting account profile information for the four identified accounts, the transaction history for those accounts, any information on any other accounts owned or controlled by the individuals utilizing the accounts, and any counteraccount profile information for the individuals utilizing the accounts. (Id. at 4:10-14; U.S.' Suppl. Resp. Opp. Def.'s Mot. Suppress Evidence, Ex. 1.) E-gold identified the owners of the accounts by their e-mail addresses, including identifying bucks@keybill.biz as the owner of account number 2981290. (Gov't Opp. at 4:14-18.) E-gold also identified twenty-three other e-gold accounts registered to the same e-mail address, including account numbers 2842101 and 2879936. (Id. at 4:18-21.)

SA Luders determined that account numbers 2842101 and 2879936 received three payments from account number 2907256:

* On February 25, 2006, at 1:23:43 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, the holder of e-gold account number 2907256 purchased a subscription from 2842101 for $40.00. The e-gold memo filed for the transaction stated "Membership purchase for REALLOLA issue #1." The Internet Protocol ("IP") address utilized to make the E-GOLD payment was 66.167.118.225.

* On February 28, 2006, at 7:53:19 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, the holder of e-gold account number 2907256 purchased a subscription from 2879936 for $50.00. The e-gold memo filed for the transaction stated "WTSS-basic012: SPYCAM LOLITA: direct." The IP address utilized to make the e-gold payment was 66.167.118.14.

* On March 5, 2006, at 1:22:03 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, the holder of e-gold account number 2907256 purchased a subscription from 2879936 for $45.00. The e-gold memo filed for the transaction stated "CHL-basic002:MY LITTLE SISTERS: direct." The IP address utilized to make the e-gold payment was 66.167.118.14. (Id. at 4:20-5:12.)

SA Luders discovered that the registrant for IP addresses 66.167.118.225 and 66.167.118.14 was Covad Communications Company ("CCC") utilizing the "whois" look-up tool provided by the American Registry of Internet Numbers, which is publicly accessible. (Id. at 5:13-17.) CCC is partnered with Earthlink to provide broadband internet services to residential customers. (Id. at 5:17-19.) On March 29, 2006, the San Jose FBI caused an administrative subpoena to be served upon Earthlink, requesting subscriber information for the 66.167.118.225 and 66.167.118.14 IP addresses during the specific dates and times of the e-gold transactions. (Id. at 5:19-23.) All three IP addresses for the given dates and times were in use by Earthlink subscriber Eric Standefer, address 6212 Stanley Avenue, San Diego, California, telephone number (619) 582-8591, e-mail address onomatopoetic@earthlink.net. (Id. at 5:23-27.)

On May 16, 2006, San Diego FBI Special Agent Travis Johnson conducted a criminal history check on Standefer. (Mem. P. & A. Supp. Mot. Suppress Evidence, Ex. A at ¶ 22.) SA Johnson discovered that Standefer had no criminal history, but that he was a credentialed school employee for approximately eight years. (Id.) SA Johnson subsequently queried the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing website and discovered that Standefer was authorized to teach "music and cross-cultural, language and academic development emphasis." (Id. ¶ 23.) On May 17, 2007, SA Johnson verified via the San Diego Unified School District website that as of May 2006 Standefer was employed as a music teacher at Jean Farb Middle School. (Id. ¶ 24.) On June 29, 2006, SA Johnson subscribed and swore out an affidavit to a magistrate judge in support of a request for a warrant to seize any and all computers located at 6212 Stanley Avenue, San Diego, California, in order to allow a computer expert to search for evidence of violations of 18 U.S.C. § 2252.*fn1 (Id. ¶¶ 1-36.)

Plaintiff now moves to suppress the evidence obtained pursuant to the warrant obtained on the basis of SA Johnson's affidavit. Plaintiff argues that the evidence discussed in the affidavit that supported the search warrant was illegally obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and that without that illegally obtained evidence, the Government lacked probable cause to obtain the warrant. Plaintiff also argues that even if the evidence referenced in SA Johnson's affidavit was lawfully obtained, the affidavit failed to raise ...


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