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United States v. Reichling

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

March 27, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
TIMMY J. REICHLING, Defendant-Appellant

Argued: February 10, 2015.

Page 884

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. No. 3:13-cr-00126-bbc-1 -- Barbara B. Crabb, Judge.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Elizabeth Altman, Attorney Office of The United States Attorney, Madison, WI.

For Timmy J. Reichling, Defendant - Appellant: Robert T. Ruth, Attorney, Madison, WI.

Before POSNER, MANION, and TINDER, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 885

Tinder, Circuit Judge.

Defendant-Appellant Timmy Reichling pleaded guilty to one count of sexual exploitation of a child, 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a), which charged Reichling with producing " a visual depiction of [a minor] engaged in sexually explicit conduct onto a Maxwell VHS tape." Reichling appeals the denial of his motions to suppress, having reserved the right to do so in his plea agreement. His appeal raises the issue of whether a search warrant affidavit detailing a largely online relationship between Reichling and a minor victim established probable cause to seize digital and non-digital storage devices--including the aforementioned VHS tape--found at Reichling's residences. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

At issue is the August 20, 2013 affidavit used to support search warrants of Reichling's parents' home in Darlington, Wisconsin, and a trailer on an adjacent property. The affidavit, signed by a sergeant with the Darlington Police Department, sets forth the following facts: a 14-year-old female victim and an individual who claimed to be the victim's age and named, " Nathan Solman," began an online Facebook relationship in July 2010; between August 2010 and July 2012, the victim sent " Nathan Solman" in excess of 300 " na-ked pictures of herself in varied sexual positions" from her cell phone; and when she tried to stop sending such pictures, " Nathan Solman" threatened to show the pictures he already possessed to others if she stopped. The internet proto-col address associated with the Facebook account of " Nathan Solman" was linked the residence of Reichling's parents in Darlington, Wisconsin.

According to the search warrant affidavit, in July 2012, the victim met " Nathan Solman" for the first time in the backyard of her residence and he appeared to be much older than the victim, with a physical description resembling Reichling. The victim reported that this encounter lasted on-ly a few minutes because her stepfather came outside and " Nathan Solman" quickly left the area. The affidavit also quotes a series of unwanted, threatening, and harassing text messages sent to the victim from March 2013 through June 2013. These text messages included details indicating that the sender knew the victim and was watching her. According to the affidavit, phone records showed that these text messages were sent from a cellular telephone number registered to Reichling.

Through information gathered from various sources, the affidavit indicates that Reichling either lived in his parent's residence or in a trailer on an adjacent property owned by Reichling's brother. According to the affidavit, Reichling was a registered sex offender, having been convicted of sec-ond-degree sexual assault of a 17-year-old female in Green County, Wisconsin, in 1993. Reichling was discharged from probation for this offense on April 1, 2010, approximately four months before " Nathan Solman" began his Facebook relationship with the victim described above.

On the basis of this affidavit, a Wisconsin circuit court judge issued one search warrant for Reichling's parents' residence and one warrant for the adjacent trailer, with both warrants authorizing the ...


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