7th Circuit affirms Indiana man’s conviction, sentence in child porn case

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a prison sentence and denial of a man’s motion to suppress stemming from his destruction of evidence and child-pornography related convictions, rejecting his argument that he was less likely to reoffend because he was white, among others.

In USA v. Adrian Grisanti, 19-1576, 18-2993, Adrian Grisanti was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison by Southern Indiana District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt after being found to possess more than 600 images of child pornography involving some prepubescent children and then destroying the evidence to thwart the investigation.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision sentence and its denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained through a network investigative technique warrant used to identify the users of a pornography website that Grisanti logged on to.

“He acknowledges that in United States v. Kienast, 907 F.3d 522, 529 (7th Cir. 2018), we held that the good-faith exception applies to agents who relied on this very warrant. Ten other circuits have agreed with that conclusion,” Judge David Hamilton wrote. “Grisanti argues, however, that the good-faith exception should be deemed categorically inapplicable to warrants that are issued ‘without jurisdiction’ and thus, he contends, ‘void ab initio.’”

The 7th Circuit rejected his argument, further denying his arguments that the FBI obtained the warrant in bad faith because the affidavit assured the magistrate judge from whom it was requested that the “property” to be searched was “located in the Eastern District of Virginia,” though the FBI planned to search computers anywhere in the world.

The 7th Circuit further found that under the circumstances, the FBI agents could have reasonably believed that any computer used to log in to the website was within the scope of the warrant, not just those in the Eastern District of Virginia, thereby concluding that the district court did not err by denying the motion to suppress.

Additionally, the panel concluded that Judge Pratt properly rejected Grisanti’s suggestion that he is less likely to commit future crimes because he is white, based on the Child Pornography Offender Risk Tool and the Correlates of Admission of Sexual Interest in Children assessment.

“Subject to constitutional limits, sentencing judges have broad discretion about the information they may consider when deciding on an appropriate sentence. But imposing different sentences based on race would violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Sentencing Guidelines,” the 7th Circuit wrote, concluding the district judge did not err by recoiling from Grisanti’s reliance on studies that factor in race.

Finally, it concluded that Grisanti’s sentence was not unreasonable and that the district judge he properly declined to view as an aggravating factor his decision to exercise his right to go to trial.

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