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United States v. Mumme

United States District Court, D. Maine

June 6, 2018

RYAN MUMME, Defendant.



         Defendant Ryan Mumme is charged with possession of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252A(a)(2), 2252A(a)(5)(b), and 2256(8)(a). Before me is Mr. Mumme's motion to suppress statements that he made and evidence that was seized during an August 31, 2015, police interview at Mr. Mumme's home. (ECF No. 29.) I held a hearing on Mr. Mumme's motion on May 22, 2018. For the reasons set out below, I DENY the motion to suppress.

         FINDINGS OF FACT[1]

         The Government began investigating Mr. Mumme after obtaining electronic payment records that showed that on December 17, 2011, a “Ryan Mumme” with the email address “” had made a $ 30 unspecified purchase from a person located in the Philippines accused of producing child pornography. Gov't's Ex. 3 at 3 (ECF No. 34-4). Further investigation suggested that between November 19, 2010, and March 24, 2015, a “Ryan Mumme” had repeatedly wired money to accounts in the Philippines and Russia in amounts totaling roughly $ 16, 000, in all but one instance using the email address “” Gov't's Ex. 3 at 3.

         On August 31, 2015, three officers went to interview Mr. Mumme at his residence in Eastport, Maine: Detective Christopher Tupper of the Maine State Police, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Gregory Kelly, and Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Chase Ossinger. The officers were accompanied by Chris Hull, a civilian computer forensics analyst with the Maine State Police, who remained with the officers' vehicles and did not take part in any questioning. Det. Tupper wore a recording device that he left on throughout the ensuing encounter. Gov't's Ex. 1 (ECF No. 34-1).

         Mr. Mumme's residence is located at the corner of a paved street and a dirt road. The officers and Mr. Hull arrived in two unmarked cars and parked along the side of the dirt road near a recreational vehicle (“RV”) that was situated next to Mr. Mumme's house. Det. Tupper went to the door of the house and knocked twice, but there was no response. Mr. Mumme's father, Chris Mumme (“CM”), then approached the officers from the direction of the RV. CM identified himself as a former law enforcement officer and attempted to get the officers to leave without speaking to Mr. Mumme. He also told the officers that he owned the property.

         While the officers were speaking with CM, Mr. Mumme drove past them up the dirt road and parked his car roughly 20 yards away in a grass lot behind the house. Det. Tupper informed CM that the officers wanted to speak with Mr. Mumme because they had information that Mr. Mumme was involved in the purchase of child pornography. CM offered to speak with his son and to contact the officers later. Det. Tupper said that the officers had driven from Bangor to meet with Mr. Mumme and that Det. Tupper was going to go speak with him. Det. Tupper walked around CM to get to Mr. Mumme, yelling “don't hinder!” at CM over his shoulder. Gov't's Ex. 2 at 6 (ECF No. 34-2). The two Homeland Security agents remained with CM. At some point, CM asked the agents if they knew that they needed a search warrant to be where they were standing. Agent Kelly replied that they were standing on a public road and that the agents had as much right to be there as a meter reader. None of the officers touched CM at any point, nor did they raise their voices to him or otherwise attempt to intimidate him.

         As is reflected in the recording, Det. Tupper informed Mr. Mumme at the outset of their conversation that he had evidence that Mr. Mumme had sent money to the Philippines to a person who trafficked in live sex shows involving children. Mr. Mumme admitted to having paid for live sex videos, but he denied purchasing child pornography. When asked whether he had ever received any child pornography, Mr. Mumme responded that he had seen it online. Mr. Mumme stated that a pornographic image involving a child had popped up on his computer sometime in the last two months. He said that it depicted a 13-year-old girl who he believed was performing oral sex on an older man, although he added that the image was pixelated. Agent Kelly then joined the conversation. Mr. Mumme went on to admit to using the email “yahoo, dexter rick” and to sending money to a woman in the Philippines once a month. He also confirmed that the property belonged to CM, and he added that Mr. Mumme was the only full-time resident as his parents lived in Florida. Neither Det. Tupper nor Agent Kelly ever informed Mr. Mumme that he was free to leave.

         While Det. Tupper and Agent Kelly spoke with Mr. Mumme, CM remained near Agent Ossinger. CM left Agent Ossinger to go in and out of the RV several times and never attempted to call out to Mr. Mumme or to go and speak with him.

         Det. Tupper and Agent Kelly asked Mr. Mumme if they could search his computers. Mr. Mumme declined, stating that he did not want his privacy invaded Det. Tupper told Mr. Mumme that because he had declined the search, the officers could not search the computers without a warrant. He then told Mr. Mumme that he had two options: Either the officers would secure Mr. Mumme's house while Det. Tupper applied for a search warrant, or Mr. Mumme could consent to turn over his electronic devices to the officers and they would hold those devices until their warrant application had been approved or denied. As Det. Tupper explained:

I have to um go see a judge, is what it entails. . . . or you could turn over your computer and I still have to go see a judge but I go see that judge tomorrow and not today. And I don't go thr[ough] your entire house. But either way I can't look at that computer without a warrant so it all depends on how you, how you want me to actually take physical possession of the device. . . . If you want to turn your device over I can apply for a search warrant if I don't get it, I bring it back to you untouched. Or I can get somebody to keep anybody from going in the house, and go see a judge right now, it's your call.

Gov't's Ex. 2 at 14.

         Det. Tupper told Mr. Mumme that he now knew that Mr. Mumme had “child pornography even if it's one image, ” and that “if it's one image that's pixilated I'm not overly concerned with that and I don't even know if that's chargeable.” Gov't's Ex. 2 at 14. Det. Tupper also reiterated that the officers knew that Mr. Mumme had sent “an awful lot of money” to the Philippines, including to a person who trafficked in live pornographic videos of children. Gov't's Ex. 2 at 14. Mr. Mumme responded, “I should get a lawyer at this point, ” and Det. Tupper told Mr. Mumme that was up to him. Gov't's Ex. 2 at 14-15. Mr. Mumme repeated, “I think I'll have to contact a lawyer, ” and Det. Tupper responded, “ok, so I'm securing your house today?” Mr. Mumme replied, “I guess you're gonna have to.” Gov't's Ex. 2 at 15. Mr. Mumme asked if he could go into the house make a phone call, and Det. Tupper told him that he could not. Det. Tupper then said that he was going to go make arrangements to have more officers come to the house, at which point Mr. Mumme said, “you know what never mind, ” and he allowed the officers into the residence to collect his electronic devices. Gov't's Ex. 2 at 15.

         As they were gathering the devices from inside the house, Det. Tupper again told Mr. Mumme that if the officers' search warrant application was rejected, Mr. Mumme would receive the devices back untouched. Det. Tupper added that if the warrant was granted and if there was ...

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