Multinational electronic corporation giant Best Buy employs a team of tech wizards known as the “Geek Squad” to provide problem-solving services for customers with computer issues. Given the nature of their job, Geek Squad workers can easily stumble upon private, and often times, sensitive material stored on clients’ computers and tablets. The FBI is now being accused of exploiting the Geek Squad’s privileged knowledge to conduct illegal searches on Best Buy customers.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Geek Squad worker Justin Meade has allegedly been working in concert with the FBI for years, informing the agency whenever he encountered child pornography on electronic devices during maintenance checks. This relationship eventually led the November 2014 indictment of Dr. Mark Albert Rettenmaier on felony charges of child pornography possession.
As the case continues to unfold, Rettenmaier’s defense attorney James Reddit claims a majority of case evidence was gathered illegally and is therefore inadmissible.
Meade’s FBI contact, agent Tracey Riley, has responded to the accusation by stating “I never asked or ordered Mr. Meade or any Best Buy employee to search for child pornography or gather information on child pornography or any other crimes on my behalf or on behalf of the FBI.”
However, Riley admits that Meade was given $500 at some point but failed to explain what it was payment for.
For his part, Meade asserts he was only following Best Buy’s policy regarding suspicious electronic content when he notified Riley about the child pornography discovery. He also repudiates any memory of the $500 payout. Despite these denials, Riddet has uncovered public records proving that Meade has been informing for the FBI as far back as 2007.
While the court has not yet ruled whether the FBI violated the 4th Amendment by obtaining evidence through unlawful search and seizure, its decision will undoubtedly make or break the case against Rettenmaier. And the accusations against the FBI as well.