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United States v. Freeman

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

January 2, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
RALPH FREEMAN, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JAMES C. CACHERIS, District Judge.

On September 25, 2014, a federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment charging Defendant Ralph Freeman ("Defendant") with one count of receipt of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2) ("Count One") and one count of possession of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(4) ("Count Two"). [Dkt. 16.] On November 20, 2014 [Dkt. 49], and again on the first day of trial on November 24, 2014, Defendant waived his Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury and requested a bench trial by this Court. The bench trial concluded on November 25, 2014. The parties submitted proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law on December 18, 2014 [Dkts. 62, 63].

The matter now before the Court is whether Defendant violated 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2) by receiving child pornography, and whether Defendant violated 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(4) by possessing child pornography. For the following reasons, the Court finds Defendant guilty of both Count One and Count Two.

I. Findings of Fact

The evidence presented at trial established the following findings of fact:

A. On April 25, 2013, Department of Homeland

Security, Homeland Security Investigations ("HSI") Special Agent Tarrah Romanoff identified an Internet Protocol Address ("Subject IP Address")[1] that used the eDonkey[2] peer-to-peer file sharing network between March 21, 2013 and March 29, 2013. (Trial Tr. [Dkts. 60, 61] at 37.)

B. The Subject IP Address was associated with over one hundred known child pornography files. (Id. at 37-38.)

C. HSI Agent Romanoff viewed two video files associated with the Subject IP Address. Both video files depicted minor females engaged in sexual activity with adult males. (Id. at 38-39.)

D. HSI Agent Romanoff issued a summons to the Internet Service Provider ("ISP") to learn the postal street address associated with the Subject IP Address. (Id. at 39.)

E. The postal street address associated with the Subject IP Address is 1009 Madison Lane, Falls Church, Virginia 22046 ("the residence"), which is located within the Eastern District of Virginia. (Id.)

F. On July 30, 2013, HSI Agent Romanoff and other state and federal law enforcement officials executed a search warrant at the residence, where Defendant resided, and continues to reside, with his wife, mother-in-law, and some, but not all, of his eight children. (Id. at 39-40.)

G. During the search, law enforcement agents seized the following computer media from the residence, which were all manufactured outside the Commonwealth of Virginia, traveled in interstate commerce, and maintained through a proper chain of custody[3] from the time of seizure to the time they were introduced and admitted into evidence at trial (id. at 46-48):

1. Sony Desktop Computer with Seagate 1.5 TeraByte Hard Drive, SN 9VS111XH (Gov't Exs. 1, 15) ("Sony all-in-one desktop");
2. Apricorn EZ-UPS External USB 500G Hard Drive, SN 5YX135RR (Gov't Ex. 2) ("Apricorn hard drive");
3. Sony Vaio Laptop with Crucial 256GB Solid State Drive, SN XXXXXXXXXXXD (Gov't Ex. 3) ("Sony laptop");
4. HP Pavilion Desktop with Western Digital 640GB Hard Drive, SN WCASY0898534 (Gov't Ex. 4);
5. Seagate 1 TeraByte Hard Drive, SN 9VP18MLF (Gov't Ex. 5);
6. Samsung 500GB Hard Drive, SN S10NJ1DPB04210 (Gov't Ex. 6) ("Samsung hard drive");
7. Seagate 500GB Hard Drive, SN 5VE09RM2 (Gov't Ex. 7); and
8. Toshiba 40GB Hard Drive, SN Z4NM31672T (Gov't Ex. 8) ("Toshiba hard drive").

H. Defendant is part owner of two small businesses: Metal Fabulous, a metal fabrication company located in Hyattsville, Maryland, and Abco, a restaurant and foodservice equipment supplier located in Alexandria, Virginia. (Trial Tr. at 61-62, 148.)

I. Defendant regularly creates computer-aided design ("CAD") drawings as part of his work. (Id. at 61-62, 253.)

J. From December of 2011 to July 2014, Brad Martensen ("Brad") worked for Defendant at "Metal Fabulous" as a project manager and shop foreman. (Id. at 61.)

K. Brad regularly used the Sony all-in-one desktop from January of 2012 until January of 2013 for CAD drawings, excel worksheets, email, and work-related photography, until his job duties changed and he used a different computer. (Id. at 62-65.)

L. At some point after Brad stopped using the Sony all-in-one desktop, it was no longer physically located in the office of Metal Fabulous. (Id. at 64.)

M. The Sony all-in-one desktop was located in the third-floor living room/office space near Defendant's bedroom when law enforcement agents seized it on July 30, 2013. (Id. at 42-45, 78-79; Gov't Ex. 15.)

N. The Sony all-in-one desktop had two user accounts: "Brad" and "Media User." (Trial Tr. at 88-89; Gov't Ex. 39.)

O. The "Brad" account on the Sony all-in-one desktop was not password protected. (Trial Tr. at 89.)

P. Brad never downloaded child pornography files onto the Sony all-in-one desktop, and no child pornography files were located in the "Brad" account on the Sony all-in-one desktop. (Id. at 66, 89; see also Gov't Exs. 40-43.)

Q. The "Media User" account was password protected and the password was "1009, " the street number of Defendant's residence. (Trial Tr. at 90; Gov't Ex. 44.)

R. The desktop of the "Media User" account on the Sony all-in-one desktop had shortcut icons for, inter alia, programs related to architectural drawing programs, CAD applications, the eMule software application, and the DropBox cloud storage application registered to the email address "Ralph@metalfabulous.com." (Trial Tr. at 90-92; Gov't Ex. 45.)

S. Defendant used the Sony all-in-one desktop under the "Media User" to conduct work business, personal business, and to download and view child pornography.

T. The "Media User" account on the Sony all-in-one desktop contained six-hundred fifty-four (654) still-image files (Gov't Ex. 21) and forty-nine (49) video files (Gov't Ex. 20) with "hash values"[4] that matched known child pornography file hash values, or child pornography files found in other law enforcement investigations.[5] (Gov't Ex. 23 at 2.)

U. The "Media User" account on the Sony all-in-one desktop contained two-thousand-nine-hundred (2, 900) still-image files and one-hundred-eighty (180) video files of suspected child pornography. (Gov't Ex. 23 at 2.)

V. All of the child pornography files found on the Sony all-in-one desktop were located under the "Media ...


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