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United States v. Sweeney

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

May 23, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
NEIL SWEENEY, Defendant

          FINDINGS AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS

          TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The defendant Neil Sweeney is charged in a two count indictment with distribution of child pornography and possession of child pornography. He seeks to suppress from the introduction into evidence against him at trial, various statements that he made while in police custody on May 20, 2015. He assigns as grounds for this suppression that the statements were obtained by in violation of rights secured to him by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) and the Fifth, Sixth, and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. For the reasons set forth below I deny that motion.

         FACTS

         At approximately 8:00 a.m. on the morning of May 20, 2015 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Officer Jennifer Weidlich, Worcester Police Officer Brian Bisceglia, and several other law enforcement officers went to 54 Elm Street in Worcester Massachusetts to execute an arrest warrant for Mr. Sweeney. While he was being placed under arrest he asked what he was being arrested for. When he was told that he was being arrested for distribution and possession of child pornography, he responded gratuitously, that he "didn't even own a computer."

         Mr. Sweeney was transported to the Worcester Police Station where he was questioned by Agent Weidlich and Officer Bisceglia. This questioning was both videotaped and audio recorded. Prior to the questioning, Agent Weidlich advised Mr. Sweeney of his Miranda Rights by using a FBI Advice of Rights form. After reading the rights to Mr. Sweeney Agent Weidlich asked him if he understood those rights and Mr. Sweeney responded that he did. Agent Weidlich further asked if he had any questions about the rights, and he responded in the negative. He was asked to sign the form acknowledging that he understood his rights, and that he was willing to answer questions without a lawyer present. Before signing he told the officers that he did not have his glasses because he was arrested before he could put them on. The officers offered to suspend the questioning and go get his glasses. However, the defendant declined that offer and thereafter signed the form acknowledging that he had received his rights was willing to be questioned.

         For approximately ten minutes the authorities questioned Mr. Sweeney without objection. When Mr. Sweeney was questioned about what email accounts he used the following exchange took place:

Defendant: Pm trying to keep myself ...I don't want to dig a hole. I need to speak to a lawyer. I need to find out what the hell's going on here because Pm not gonna to do something and you're telling me that Pm doing, I did something that I didn't do. Pm not gonna admit to something that I didn't do.
Bisceglia: No, we certainly wouldn't want you to do that.
Weidlich: No, definitely not. And it's certainly your right to talk to a lawyer, so if, we're, you want to be done here, we're done here.
Defendant: I mean, in regards to questions of me digging a hole then Pm not going to do that. But as far as what you're telling me what I did, I didn't do so ...
Bisceglia: So, are you asking for a lawyer. Pm confused.
Defendant: Do I need a lawyer?
Weidlich: That's not a question that we can answer. It's entirely you're right If you'd like to speak to a ...

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