United States v. Irons, CRIMINAL ACTION 20-40029-TSH

CourtUnited States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
Decision Date23 March 2022
Docket NumberCRIMINAL ACTION 20-40029-TSH




United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

March 23, 2022



The United States of America (the “Government”) charged Michael Irons (“Defendant”) in a with distribution and possession of child pornography. Defendant moves to suppress all evidence seized as a result of the search warrant issued, all statements made by him to law enforcement, and all evidence obtained from electronic sources. For the following reasons, the motion to suppress is denied.


On July 5, 2019, Kik Messenger (“Kik”), a free instant messaging application for mobile devices designed for chatting or messaging, created a report regarding the suspected transmission of child pornography on their application. According to the report, on that same day, an online user submitted an Abuse Report after an individual with the Kik username “Funboy1313” sent three videos of suspected child pornography in a chat. The subscriber information for


“Funboy1313” included the name “M D, ” an email address “yomiketow@gmail.com, ” a phone type as Android, and a phone model as SM-G920P.

The Abuse Report stated that “Funboy1313” texted to the other user, “Trade vids?” and later texted “Y oung?” The Abuse Report also contained the three videos, two of which Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) Special Agent Jason DeFreitas (“DeFreitas”), a Special Agent with HIS, believed to be child pornography, specifically:[2]

a. File “d014c874-3a01-4bfc-a98c-7dc75b07e017.mp4”: the video is approximately 1 minute and 2 seconds in length and depicts a topless prepubescent female child, approximately 2-3 years old, performing oral sex on an adult's penis Later in this video, the adult male ejaculates in the child's mouth; and
b. File “cd45c86d-622c-4f82-b895-fd009a4f3962.mp4”: the video is approximately 1 minute and 5 seconds in duration and depicts two females approximately 8-10 years of age. In the video, the two children pull their pants down, exposing their buttocks and vaginas. In a segment of the video, one child grabbed her vagina with both hands. Both children are prepubescent, as indicated by their lack of breasts and pubic hair

The Kik Report also contained an IP address associated with the “Funboy1313” account, The IP address was used to send all three videos referenced above as well as one of the text messages referenced in the Abuse Report. In addition, the same IP address was used to access the Kik account on several other occasions in the same month and the preceding month of June 2019.

HSI received the Kik Report in November 2019. Subsequently, HSI conducted a query within the American Registry for Internet Numbers online database, which revealed that IP address was registered to Comcast Communications (“Comcast”). On December 19, 2019, HSI sent an administrative summons to Comcast for the subscriber information


associated with IP address on July 5, 2019 at 13:08:46 UTC. Comcast returned the following subscriber information: April Cutler, 238 West Street, Gardner, Massachusetts 01440 (“the Gardner Address”).

A public records database search indicated that April Cutler and the Defendant resided at the Gardner address together, and that the Defendant had been associated with the address since 2008. RMV records further revealed that on or about May 28, 2020, the Defendant and Cutler were both issued Massachusetts drivers' licenses that listed the Gardner address as their residence, and that the Defendant was the registered owner of a 2012 Toyota Rav4 and a 2003 Nissan Altima, both of which were linked to the Gardner address.

HSI further reviewed the Defendant's Facebook account which listed his occupation as a manager for a towing company located in Gardner. In addition, HSI obtained information from the U.S. Department of Labor confirming that the Defendant was employed by this same towing company. On or about May 25, 2020, Gardner Police Detective Christopher Starynski informed HSI that the Gardner address was owned by the Defendant's employer. On or about May 29, 2020, HSI Task Force Officer (“TFO”) Randy DeMello conducted surveillance at the Gardner Address. TFO DeMello observed the two vehicles registered to the Defendant parked at the Gardner address along with a vehicle registered to Cutler. The Gardner address is located directly next door to the tow company that employs the Defendant. HIS Special Agent Jason DeFreitas drafted a search warrant for the Gardner address with all the above information. On July 28, 2020, the Court signed the search warrant.

On the morning of July 30, 2020, HSI executed the search warrant on the Gardner Address. Approximately nine law enforcement officers, including three computer technicians, arrived to execute the search. At this time, the Defendant, his girlfriend's daughter Alexis


Williams, and her boyfriend, Bradley Duffy were present in the residence. During the search of the house, agents found two phones in the Defendant's bedroom. One phone was a Samsung Galaxy S6 (“S6”); the other phone was a Samsung Galaxy S9 (“S9”).

The Defendant agreed to speak to agents. The 60-minute interview was recorded and conducted in a room off the main kitchen. HIS Agents DeFreitas and Janet Connolly conducted the interview and another local officer stood nearby. Before the interview began, agents provided the Defendant his Miranda warnings and the Defendant agreed to speak to them. The Defendant then signed the Advice of Rights form and waiver.

During the interview, which took place in an eat-in area off the kitchen, neither agent drew or displayed their weapon or handcuffs. The Defendant was not placed in handcuffs and was not physically restrained. He did not ask the agents to leave, end the interview or ask for an attorney. He did not ask the agents to slow down and when asked several times if he had any questions, he replied that he did not. The agents told Defendant multiple times that he was free to leave the interview and was offered water by Agent Connolly. The tone of the interview was collegial and calm, with some banter and joking between the agents and the Defendant.

During the interview, the Defendant confirmed that both the S6 and S9 phones belonged to him. The Defendant further confirmed that “Funboy1313” was his username on Kik and admitted to trading, sharing, and distributing child pornography. The Defendant stated that he used Kik as recently as the day before, July 29, 2020. The Defendant further stated that he would also use Snapchat and confirmed that his username on Snapchat was also “Funboy1313.” The Defendant stated that after meeting underage girls on the Kik application, he would continue the conversations on Snapchat. The Defendant stated that he believed the girls were as young as 15 years of age.


In addition to the search warrant, which gave agents the authority to search the Defendant's mobile phones, agents also obtained the Defendant's verbal and written consent to search his Kik, Snapchat, and Mega applications on both the S6 and the S9 phones. At the conclusion of the search of the residence, HSI took the Defendant's two phones and no other electronic devices.

Agents subsequently completed an extraction of the Defendant's two phones. During a preliminary search of the S6 cell phone, agents found at least 50 videos of child pornography. On the S9 phone, HSI agents found approximately 300 videos, which according to the metadata, came from the Mega application. Of the 300 videos, agents believe that at least 150 videos constitute child pornography. HSI further found a Kik messenger group chat on the Defendant's S9 phone under the username “funnyboy1313.” The group chat was titled “sharingiscaring.” The group chat began on July 22, 2020, and contained approximately 40 people uploading images and videos of suspected child pornography.

The Defendant played an active role in the group chat. In addition to sharing images and videos, the Defendant encouraged others to share child pornography, making comments such as, “Need to kik people out that dont share, ” “Daddys girl vid wont play, ” “Share what ya got. Younger the better, ” and “Anyone have that video daddys girl asks to have sex?” The Defendant distributed a final video on July 30, 2020, at 9:27 AM UTC.


Search Warrant

The Fourth Amendment, which protects individuals against unreasonable government searches and seizures, provides that “no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.” U.S. Const. amend. IV. A warrant is based on probable cause when “the affidavit upon which a


warrant is founded demonstrates in some trustworthy fashion the likelihood that an offense has been committed and that there is sound reason to believe that a particular search will turn up evidence of it.” United States v. Aguirre, 839 F.2d 854, 857-858 (1st Cir. 1988). Probable cause means “reasonable cause, ” something significantly less exacting than “more likely than not” or “by a preponderance of the evidence.” United States v. Melvin, 596 F.2d 492, 495 (1st Cir. 1979). “The standard of probable cause is the probability, not a prima facie showing, of criminal activity.” United States v. Ciampa, 793 F.2d 19, 22 (1st Cir. 1986); see also Safford v. Unified Sch. Dist. of Redding, 557 U.S. 364, 371 (2009).

Where a defendant challenges the legality of a search conducted pursuant to a search warrant, he bears the burden of showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the search was unlawful. United States. v. Legault, 323 F.Supp.2d 217, 220 (D.Mass. 2004); see United States v. Burdulis, No. 10-40003, 2011 WL 1898941, at *3 (D.Mass. May 19, 2011) (citing...

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