694 Fed.Appx. 422 (7th Cir. 2017), 16-3047, United States v. Geasland

Docket Nº:16-3047
Citation:694 Fed.Appx. 422
Party Name:UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. RICHARD GEASLAND, Defendant-Appellant
Attorney:For UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee: Julie Suzanne Pfluger, Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Madison, WI. For RICHARD GEASLAND, Defendant - Appellant: Shelley M. Fite, Attorney, FEDERAL DEFENDER SERVICES OF WISCONSIN, INC., Madison, WI.
Judge Panel:Before DANIEL A. MANION, Circuit Judge, ILANA DIAMOND ROVNER, Circuit Judge, SHARON JOHNSON COLEMAN, District Judge[*].
Case Date:August 16, 2017
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Page 422

694 Fed.Appx. 422 (7th Cir. 2017)



RICHARD GEASLAND, Defendant-Appellant

No. 16-3047

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

August 16, 2017

Argued April 20, 2017.

Editorial Note:

NONPRECEDENTIAL DISPOSITION. (See Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure Rule 32.1)

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. No. 3:15-cr-00132-jdp-1. James D. Peterson, Chief Judge.

For UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee: Julie Suzanne Pfluger, Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Madison, WI.

For RICHARD GEASLAND, Defendant - Appellant: Shelley M. Fite, Attorney, FEDERAL DEFENDER SERVICES OF WISCONSIN, INC., Madison, WI.

Before DANIEL A. MANION, Circuit Judge, ILANA DIAMOND ROVNER, Circuit Judge, SHARON JOHNSON COLEMAN, District Judge[*].

Page 423


Richard Geasland pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(4)(B), and was ordered to serve a prison term of 120 months. Geasland appeals the denial of his motion to suppress evidence seized in the search of his apartment as well as the district court's determination that a prior Wisconsin conviction for sexual assault of a minor qualifies as a conviction under a state law relating to abusive sexual contact with a minor so as to trigger a ten-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment, see 18 U.S.C. § 2252(b)(2). We affirm the judgment.



On the morning of October 6, 2015, Susan Leppert presented herself at the Cuba City, Wisconsin police department to make a report concerning her former neighbor, Richard Geasland. For the prior month and a half, Leppert had been living in the first-floor apartment of a two-flat residence at 317 South Main Street; Geasland lived in the upstairs apartment. Geasland and Leppert were on friendly terms. But two days earlier, Leppert had had a disturbing conversation with Geasland that had caused her to move out of the apartment and ultimately had brought her to the police station. Chief of Police Terry Terpstra interviewed Leppert and had her prepare a handwritten statement detailing what she told him. Leppert wrote out a three-page statement on a " Voluntary Statement" form provided to her. The first page of the form contained a pre-printed certification stating: " I am making this statement to the Cuba City Police Department. I have read, or have had read to me, this statement, each page of which bears my signature. ... I certify that the facts and details contained herein are true and correct." R. 18-2 at 4. Below that certification, Leppert filled in her identifying information and signed the form. Next to that, Terpstra likewise provided his identifying information and signed as a witness.

As the content of Leppert's statement is relevant to the validity of the warrant authorizing a search of Geasland's apartment, we recount it in full below. We have broken the statement into paragraphs for ease of reading. The statement read as follows:

On 10/4/15 Richard Geasland welcomed me into his apartment for a tour. Before I entered his living room, he turned off his computer monitor and said he had some pictures on his computer he didn't want me to see. He asked me to sit down, offered me a pop, and said he wanted to explain why he was in prison. He asked me if I knew what a pedifile [sic: pedophile] or hedofile [sic: hebephile] is. I said I only know what a [pedophile] is. He said [pedophile] is if you like people/kids underage & [hebephile] is someone who likes older people. He said he went to prison for touching a 5-year old girl. He said it was his girlfriend's niece, who was 5 years old & she used to stay at their house on the weekends. He said him & her both went to prison for touching the little girl. He said cuddling was always more than cuddling. He said when they picked her up she kissed him on the cheek & when he went to kiss her on the cheek, she turned her head & kissed him on the lips & stuck her tongue in his mouth. He

Page 424 said she would lay in bed & cuddle with him. He said he went to prison for her giving him oral sex. He tried to justify it by saying, he felt like she knew what she was doing & felt as if she had done it before because she knew how to bob her head. He said she lived with her mom & 3 [M]exican guys & one of them was the mom's boyfriend. He said he thought the mom's boyfriend made her do these sexual things because she seemed " experienced."

He said he also did sexual things with his daughter and that she has not talked to him in 15 years because of what he did. [H]e said she moved to [F]lorida & that he doesn't have a relationship with her because of what he made her do. He said he was mad at her for telling his son because they no longer have a good relationship. He said he spends holidays alone because they won't forgive him.

He said him & his girlfriend went to prison for what they did to the 5 yr old.

He told me the reason he turned off the computer monitor [was] because he had pictures of naked children on his computer & didn't want me to judge him before he explained his past. He said he sits on his computer all night looking at young girls/children on a porn site online. He said it is a private network where naked pictures of children are there to view. He said he spends most of his time not wearing clothes & looking at these pictures online. He said that he " prefers little girls between ages 13 & 16." He said he was caught for the 5 yr old but likes young teen girls.

He said that I don't have anything to worry about because I have 3 little boys (ages 6, 5, & 2) & he likes girls. I told him I had to go home & he asked me to come back because he had a lot more to tell me. He asked me not to tell anyone and said I was the only one in Cuba City he has told. He said he felt like he had to tell me because he was my neighbor & I have young kids.

I went home & packed my things. We stayed at my mom's & I moved out the next day 10/5/15. I refuse to live by someone like him!

R. 18-2 at 4-6. In addition to her certification on the first page of the statement, Leppert signed the final (third) page of her statement. R. 18-2 at 6.

Based on what Leppert had told him, Terpstra decided to immediately seek a search warrant for Geasland's apartment. In addition to preparing a police report which summarized his conversation with Leppert, Terpstra completed a brief affidavit in support of the warrant application that attached his report and Leppert's written statement. The affidavit included the following representations concerning the house where Geasland lived and Terpstra's impression as to Leppert's credibility: 3. Affiant knows that 317 S. Main Street is a two story house divided into a lower and upper apartment. The upper apartment is the apartment in question. The downstairs apartment is now vacant. The upstairs apartment door is the door farthest to the West. The door is described as a solid white door with no screen on the front. The house is multi colored with red siding on the lower half and Tan on the upper half. The windows have a red trim around the outside. The house is located on Main St. but has no doors at the front. The house is the fo[u]rth property to the South of Calhoun St. The subject resides by himself in the upper apartment, 317 1/2 Main St.

4. Affiant states that he believes the information from Susan Leppert to be truthful and reliable based upon her status as a citizen informant.

R. 18-2 at 1. The certification on Terpstra's affidavit represented that its contents

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were " true to his own knowledge" except as otherwise indicated. R. 18-2 at 1. The affidavit was notarized by Lisa Riniker, who happened to be the Grant County District Attorney, acting in her capacity as a notary public.1

A state court issued a warrant authorizing the search of Geasland's apartment, and on the evening of October 6 (the same day Leppert had made her report to Terpstra), local and state police officers executed the warrant. Within the apartment, they discovered, among other items, a 500 gigabyte external computer hard drive, which they seized. Geasland was arrested based on certain incriminating statements he made during the search (these were later suppressed) and a preliminary on-site examination of the external drive which confirmed it contained pornographic images of children. Police subsequently obtained a second warrant authorizing a full forensic examination of the drive and the other electronic devices seized from the apartment. On the drive were thousands of pornographic images of young children.

Three weeks after Geasland was taken into custody,[2] a federal complaint (supported by an affidavit from Terpstra) was filed charging Geasland with the...

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