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United States v. Valley

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

June 18, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
THOMAS R. VALLEY, Defendant-Appellant

Argued April 29, 2014

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. No. 3:11-cr-00133 -- Barbara B. Crabb, Judge.

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

For Thomas R. Valley, Defendant - Appellant: Gregory N. Dutch, Attorney, Law Office of Gregory N. Dutch, Madison, WI.

Before BAUER, FLAUM, and KANNE, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 582

PER CURIAM.

Thomas Valley, who is 29, posed on the Internet as a teenage boy and persuaded more than 50 underage girls to send him sexually explicit photos of themselves. He also convinced at least one of those girls to meet in person for sex. Authorities had learned that Valley was using Internet file-sharing software to distribute child pornography and discovered the photos received from the girls while executing a state search warrant at his mother's home, where he lived. Valley made incriminating statements during the search and, after his indictment, unsuccessfully moved to suppress those statements and the fruits of the search. He entered conditional guilty pleas to two counts of receiving child pornography, 18 U.S.C. ยง 2252(a)(2), reserving his right to challenge on appeal the adverse rulings on his motions to dismiss. Valley contests those rulings and also argues that his sentence is unreasonably long. We reject his contentions and affirm the judgment.

I. Background

Valley was charged by indictment with six counts of producing child pornography, 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a), but by agreement with the government pleaded guilty to an information charging two counts of receiving child pornography, id. § 2252(a)(2). As part of his plea agreement, Valley stipulated that his production of child pornography, as alleged in the six counts of the indictment, would be treated as additional counts of conviction.

At the start of the case, Valley's attorney had moved for a competence evaluation based on the defendant's history of mental-health issues. The examining psychologist concluded that Valley, although a grandiose liar, did not suffer from any mental illness which jeopardized his view of reality. After the psychologist issued her report, Valley's public defender was permitted to withdraw, and substitute counsel was appointed. The new lawyer (who continues to represent Valley on appeal)

Page 583

then filed motions to suppress Valley's incriminating statements and the fruits of the search.

Valley's motion to suppress the evidence from the search was decided without an evidentiary hearing. That motion was based on information in the affidavit accompanying the application for the search warrant. Valley argued that the warrant was stale because it was not obtained until eight months after investigators last downloaded child pornography from his computer using file-sharing software. The defendant also argued that the supporting affidavit " lacks particularity" and is " overbroad" because, as he reads it, the affidavit does not explain how the agents identified his Internet-protocol (" IP" ) address, name the software used to locate the images on Valley's computer, or disclose which image first was traced to his computer. In the affidavit Special Agent Christopher DeRemer describes his familiarity with forensic computer examinations and peer-to-peer file sharing. According to Agent DeRemer, in September 2010 he and Agent Vern Vandeberg downloaded files containing child pornography from a computer utilizing an IP address assigned to Kay Jenson (Valley's mother) ...


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