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AFFIDAVIT OF BENJAMIN A.

ALVIS
I, Benjamin A. Alvis, Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), being
duly sworn, do hereby depose and say, that:
Introduction
1.

I am a law enforcement officer of the United States, within the meaning of Section

2510(7) of Title 18, United States Code, and am empowered by law to conduct investigations of
and to make arrests for offenses enumerated in Section 2516 of Title 18, United States Code. I
have been a Special Agent with the FBI for nearly six years. For seven years prior to that, I was a
police officer in Harrisonburg, Virginia. I have prepared and sworn to numerous search warrant
and arrest warrant affidavits for the FBI and as a police officer. I have investigated health care
fraud, money laundering, drug, firearm, extortion and organized crime cases. I have executed
search warrants and arrest warrants which have resulted in the seizure of evidence and individuals.
Additionally, I have received training, both formal and informal, in the operation of organized
crime, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and wiretap investigations through the FBIs
training academy in Quantico, Virginia.
2.

I am aware that Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1958, makes it a crime

for a person to travel interstate or to use facilities of interstate commerce in the commission of
murder-for-hire.
3.

I make this affidavit in support of a criminal complaint charging JOSEPH BURKE

(hereinafter BURKE) with interstate travel and use of facilities of interstate commerce in the
commission of murder for hire (Case No. M.J. 15-4375-DHH) and for search warrants authorizing
federal agents and other law enforcement authorities to search a residence located at 43 Lexington
Street, Everett, Massachusetts (hereinafter, the Target Premises A), which is the residence of

BURKE (Case No. 15-MJ-4376-DHH); a residence located 3 Everett Avenue, Somerville,


Massachusetts (hereinafter Target Premises B, collectively the Target Premises), which is the
residence of BURKEs girlfriend (the girlfriend) (Case No. 15-MJ-4377-DHH); and a black
Nissan Altima, bearing Massachusetts Registration Number 2NX-777 and registered to JOSEPH
BURKE Massachusetts (hereinafter the black Nissan or Target Automobile), which is the car
which BURKE has driven (Case No. 15-MJ-43778-DHH). Based upon what is set forth in the
following paragraphs, I have probable cause to believe that BURKE traveled interstate and used
facilities of interstate commerce in the commission of murder-for-hire in violation of 18 U.S.C.
1958 (hereinafter the Target Offense), and that evidence of the Target Offense may be present
at the Target Premises and Target Automobile.
4.

The facts stated herein are based on my own personal involvement in this

investigation, my review of documents and reports, and my discussions with other law
enforcement officers also involved in the investigation. In submitting this affidavit, however, I
have not included each and every fact known to me about the investigation, but only those facts
which I believe are sufficient to establish the requisite probable cause.
Description of the Target Premises and Target Automobile
5.

Target Premises A is 43 Lexington Street, Everett, Massachusetts. Target

Premises A is the second and third floor of a two-family, three-story (including attic), free standing
house with a dormered roof and light blue or gray vinyl siding. There is a concrete driveway
along the right side of the house (when facing the house from the street), part of which is enclosed
by a chain-link fence, and a stone wall, approximately two feet high, in front of the house. There
appears to be a wooden fence at the rear of the property and a wooden porch off the second floor in
the rear of the building. Target Premises A is entered through a door at the front of the house

marked with 43. Inside that door, which leads only to Target Premises A, is a staircase that
leads directly to the second floor apartment. The second floor contains a living room, kitchen and
office and the third floor contains bedrooms. Photographs of Target Premises A are attached. I
believe that the first floor is a separate apartment, accessed through a door on the right of the
building (when facing the house from the street), behind the chain-link fence.
6.

Target Premises A is the address given by BURKE to his U.S. Probation Officer as

his primary address. A U.S. Probation Officer did a home inspection of BURKEs residence at
Target Premises A on August 20, 2015, with BURKE present. BURKE identified his bedroom in
the apartment, which held his clothes. BURKE has not given any other address to probation.
7.

Target Premises B is 3 Everett Avenue, First Floor, Somerville, Massachusetts.

Target Premises B is the first floor apartment of a multiple-family, three-story (including attic),
free standing house with a pitched roof. Stone siding covers the lower level and white vinyl
siding covers the upper levels. Target Premises B has a raised stone porch under a balcony, with
decorative iron railings around the porch and balcony. There are two front doors leading onto the
porch; the door on the left is labeled 3A and the door on the right is unlabeled. There is a paved
alley to the right side of the house, with a chain-link fence to the right of the driveway. A
photograph of Target Premises B is attached.1
8.

Target Premises B is the home the girlfriend. The girlfriends Massachusetts

drivers license lists her address as 3 Everett Avenue 1. Surveillance has observed BURKEs
car, the black Nissan, parked in from Target Premises B and has observed BURKE in the company
1

It is apparent that one of the two doors leads directly to the first-floor apartment and the other
leads to a stairway to the upstairs apartments. Based on architectural configuration of the front of
the house, it appears that the door on the right leads directly to the first floor. However, we do not
know that with certainty and agents will determine which door leads to the first floor upon arrival
at the location. Target Premises B is not the location where FBI agents will effect BURKEs
arrest.
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of the girlfriend at Target Premises B on numerous occasions. BURKEs Massachusetts drivers


license lists his address as 3 Everett Avenue 1.
9.

The Target Automobile is a black, four door Nissan Altima, with no apparent

stickers or damage, bearing Massachusetts registration 2NX-777, registered to BURKE at the


address of 3 Everett Avenue, 1, Somerville, Massachusetts. As described below, surveillance
observed BURKE in the black Nissan on October 6, 2015.
Probable Cause That BURKE Committed the Target Offense
10.

BURKE has been convicted, in Federal District Court, District of Massachusetts, in

1988 of robbery charges and sentenced to 63 months in prison; and in 1993 of possession of
cocaine with intent to distribute and sentenced to 120 months in prison. BURKE is currently on
probation, supervised by the Probation and Pretrial Services Office in the District of
Massachusetts
11.

As discussed below, the FBI has information that BURKEs associate the girlfriend

is likely assisting BURKE in transporting firearms and is likely jointly possessing firearms with
BURKE, which firearms BURKE intends to use for the murder-for-hire. The girlfriend has been
convicted of several crimes, including crimes punishable by more than one year in prison. For
example, the girlfriend was convicted this year, in Somerville District Court, of assault and battery
with a dangerous weapon.
12.

As discussed below, FBI agents working in an undercover capacity have recently

met with BURKE. The FBI has audio recorded each of the meetings discussed below and I have
listened to those audio recordings. In addition, several of the meetings have been video-taped.
13.

One of the undercover agents (UC-1) has met with BURKE on the numerous

occasions, including those discussed below to discuss a variety of potential business ventures.

During the course of those meetings, BURKE has offered to engage in several illegal activities,
including marijuana trafficking, robberies, and the commission of violent acts, including murder.
March 17, 2015 Undercover Meeting
14.

On March 17, 2015, BURKE told UC-1 that he needed money and might have to

commit an armored car robbery. He also asked UC-1 to identify wealthy individuals as potential
Targets for future robberies. In the same conversation, BURKE said the following (all quotes in
this affidavit are based on my listening to audio recordings or from draft transcripts):
[Y]ou might know some rich people who want to get out of a marriage . . . [T]his
[gesturing with his hand as if firing a handgun], Ill do this all day long. [In
response to UC-1s expression of concern that BURKE could go back to jail,
BURKE said,] [h]ow they gonna know, if Im dumping somebody in L.A. or
Miami or . . . you think Im gonna leave fingerprints? [In response to UC-1s
asking if BURKE was talking about hurting somebody or just taking their shit,
BURKE said,] [n]o, just killing them. So you might know somebody who wants
to get rid of a husband . . . that Ill do all day long. For a price, all day long. Not
a problem.
June 27, 2015 Undercover Meeting
15.

At a meeting on June 27, 2015, BURKE participated in a conversation with UC-1

and another undercover agent (hereinafter the Target). After that conversation, when he was
alone with UC-1, BURKE said, with regard to the Target, that Im gonna smash his fucking head
in; and slap the fucking piss out of him.
September 9, 2015 Undercover Meeting
16.

On September 9, 2015, UC-1 met with BURKE in Boston. During that meeting,

UC-1 told BURKE that the Target was making trouble for UC-1 with the Internal Revenue Service
(IRS), causing the IRS to freeze his funds. UC-1 told BURKE that he needed advice because
his livelihood was at stake. UC-1 told BURKE that UC-1 could show BURKE the Targets office
in New York and you do whatever you gotta do. BURKE responded, Yeah. In that same

conversation BURKE and UC-1 discussed the details of a plan to murder the Target. BURKE
told UC-1 that he would have to go to New York and look at everything, referring to the Targets
office. UC-1 asked BURKE if he was going to do this [the murder] by yourself? Are you going
to do it with somebody? BURKE responded, By myself. Later in the same conversation,
BURKE stated that he might recruit his own Irish guy . . . who I trust, I grew up with.
17.

In the conversation on September 9, UC-1 told BURKE that he was petrified to

have this conversation with you, that youd take it the wrong way . . . [b]ut you brought it up to
me. BURKE responded, I brought it up to you before, yeah. BURKE proposed to meet UC-1
in New York, not this week-end, the following week-end, I meet you down there and you show
me everything. The two discussed the logistics of such a meeting; for example, BURKE
instructed UC-1 to get a hotel room for BURKE in New York under a pseudonym. BURKE also
instructed UC-1 not to draw attention to himself by probing into the Targets habits.
18.

BURKE described how he would kill the Target and said he had no qualms with

doing it. BURKE said, Im gonna fucking shoot him in the head. . . . Fucking gonna hit him
right in the fucking derby. Three in the derby and three in his chest. Dont worry, he aint getting
up. BURKE also stated that this is serious, serious business. This is a lifetime in jail, you
know what I mean?
19.

Also in the September 9 meeting, BURKE and UC-1 discussed how BURKE

would be compensated. UC-1 told BURKE, Joe, I cant, I cant give you a lot up front . . . Ill
scrape something together. BURKE responded, Yeah. UC-1 also said, I will pay you and
Ill tell you anything in [the Targets office] is yours, to which BURKE again responded, Yeah.
During the same conversation, BURKE counseled UC-1 to borrow money from the Target
because UC-1 would not have to pay the money back: You just borrow money from him. And

then once you get the money from him, we got that, then we got the stick up and then hes gone.
BURKE further explained, Thats how wise guys do. When the wise guys get clipped. . . . you
aint gotta pay it back; hes gone.
September 19, 2015 Undercover Meeting
20.

On September 19, 2015, BURKE and UC-1 met in Manhattan, New York, for the

purpose of UC-1s showing BURKE the location of the Targets office. The girlfriend was in
Manhattan with BURKE. BURKE and UC-1 initially met briefly and then separated while
BURKE took The girlfriend to a nearby hotel where UC-1 had reserved a room for BURKE, under
a pseudonym, as BURKE had instructed. During that initial meeting, BURKE told UC-1 that The
girlfriend was going to transport to Massachusetts two firearms that BURKE intended to obtain in
Brooklyn, New York. BURKE described the firearms as a Glock .40 caliber handgun and a
Skorpion submachine gun. (Based on my training and experience, I know that Glock and
Skorpion firearms are manufactured in Europe. None are manufactured in the United States.)
BURKE told UC-1 that he had a girl with him and that she was going to carry the guns back to
Boston.
21.

BURKE and UC-1 next met later that evening, in UC-1s hotel room.

In that

conversation, UC-1 asked BURKE what he was going to do with the guns. BURKE responded,
The Glock, Im using on him, which I understand to be a reference to the Target. BURKE
described the Glock as having a threaded barrel with a suppressor (also commonly known as a
silencer). According to BURKE, when firing a gun equipped with a suppressor, All you hear is
the hammer being pushed back:
22.

click, click . . . .

UC-1 told BURKE that he had recently gone to the Targets office and was able to

give BURKE a detailed description of it. UC-1 also showed BURKE photographs of the Targets

office and car. UC-1 gave BURKE notes on what he said was his recent surveillance of the
Targets office, indicating when the Target arrived and how he entered the building. BURKE
said he intended to kill the Target at the door to his office, stating, Hell never get in the door.
The two men agreed that UC-1 would take BURKE to the Targets office so that BURKE can see
it first hand. BURKE then told UC-1 that he planned to return to the location twice to do a
little homework.
23.

While in UC-1s hotel room, the two men discussed how BURKE would be

compensated for killing the Target. UC-1 told BURKE he had asked the Target for a loan of
$100,000 and the Target had said that he might be able to lend him $50,000. UC-1 also told
BURKE that the Target delivered cash to his (the Targets) office on Friday nights. UC-1
estimated that the Target typically carried approximately $100,000 when delivering cash to his
office. He described the bag the Target used to carry the cash and told BURKE that the bag
would probably contain at least $100,000. UC-1 said to BURKE, If it doesnt have the hundred
[$100,000], Ill make up the difference, because its gotta be close. So you got 50 [$50,000]
maybe, the hundred probably for sure and thats a pretty good day. UC-1 then said, Tell me Im
not gonna go to jail. BURKE responded, Youre never gonna go to jail. As long as you dont
tell nobody nothing,. . . you aint got nothing to worry about. Never. UC-1 then gave BURKE
$2,000, which he characterized as a down payment. In response, BURKE said, lets let the Target
pay for his own demise, or words to that effect. I understand BURKEs statements to mean that
he accepted the $2,000 that UC-1 paid him as an initial payment and intends to be further
compensated by UC-1 with funds that UC-1 will borrow from the Target, in addition to funds in
the Targets possession at the time of the murder.

24.

Later that evening, UC-1 drove BURKE to the Targets office. BURKE observed

the layout of the area where UC-1 told him the Target typically parks his car. BURKE also
observed what appeared to be security video cameras in the area. BURKE said that he was not
worried about the cameras because he planned to wear a hat. He also asked UC-1 to obtain a
particular type of very realistic mask, which BURKE identified by brand. I have researched the
brand BURKE identified and have confirmed that the brand of mask BURKE identified is in fact
very realistic; some of the masks look like real human faces.

BURKE said he would use the

mask during the commission of the murder. BURKE described the site as perfect and said that he
would obtain police scanners to listen to police calls.
25.

At the end of the evening, BURKE told UC-1 that he planned to return to Boston by

train on or before September 21, 2015. The following day, BURKE called UC-1, told him he was
still in New York, and said, I gotta see . . . a friend of mine, a wise guy, tonight down here.
Based on my training and experience, I understand wise guy to refer to a man involved in
organized crime.
September 25, 2015 Undercover Telephone Conversation
26.

On September 25, 2015, UC-1 and Burke spoke via telephone. The primary topic

of conversation was the size, quantity, and characteristics of the very realistic mask Burke had
requested during their September 19, 2015 meeting. Burke told UC-1 that he needed two
extra-large black masks. (Based on my review of the evidence, the requested masks resemble
black males.) Burke instructed UC-1 to mail the masks to him care of Lisa Pino. Burke then
provided the following address for Lisa Pino, which is the Target Premises B: 3 Everett Ave.,
Somerville, Massachusetts 02145. UC-1 told Burke that it would take about a week or so so
obtain the masks.

27.

On October 3, 2015, Burke and UC-1 spoke again via telephone. UC-1 told Burke

he would be in Rhode Island soon and the two men agreed to meet on October 6, 2015.

The two

men spoke again by telephone on October 5, 2015, and confirmed their meeting the next day.
October 6, 2015 Undercover Meeting
28.

As agreed, Burke and UC-1 met in Rhode Island on October 6, 2015. UC-1

delivered to Burke two masks depicting faces of black men.

The two men discussed the plan to

murder the Target, the timing of the murder, how Burke would be paid for murdering the Target,
and additional steps Burke intended to take before committing the murder. Burke told UC-1 he
intended to break into the Targets office and lie in wait for him in order to kill him.
29.

When Burke saw one of the masks, he said it was perfect. When asked whether

he needed anything else from the UC, Burke responded, Nothing, I already got . . . I already got
the piece; I got everything. I got a nice, you know. Based on my training and experience, I
understand piece to refer to a firearm. Burke stated that he had gotten the weapon during his
September 19, 2015 trip to New York and that he had test-fired the weapon. Burke confirmed
that firing the weapon would be quiet.
30.

Burke then went on to describe how he intended to kill the Target. He stated, Ill

do that at about 12:15. What I do is I punch it, open it, walk up the street, make sure theres no
silent alarm. As soon as 10 minutes, walk by, come back down, and I go in. And I just sit and wait
. . . The first shot Im gonna hit him is here [Burke points to his chest]. When he goes down, hes
gonna grab his chest. And Im gonna walk up; Im gonna stick it in his mouth; Im gonna say,
Listen, this is for Mike. Boop! And the back of his head will be all over the fucking place.
31.

Later in that same conversation, Burke and UC-1 also had the following exchange

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UC-1:

And I cant believe Im having this conversation, but lets go through this one more
time. Ill tell you what Ive done then you tell me what to do. But a couple of
things: one is that Im not having any second thoughts. And maybe I should . . .

Burke:

Why? Hes a piece of shit.

UC-1:

. . . but Im not. So, if you want to walk away, you wanna tell me to walk away,
today is the day, because Im ready.

Burke:

Full speed ahead, my man. All I need for you is this week-end, a hotel and a car
and the following week-end.

UC-1:

All right. Well, thats what I want to go through because; lets go through it step
by step.

Burke:

All right.

UC-1:

Cause Im basically . . . the way Im doing this is this is another business deal for
me.

Burke:

Yeah, thats all it is.

UC-1:

It just happens to be a putting a hole in the fucking guys head.

Burke:

Yeah, yeah.

UC-1:

And thats one thing, um, I want this guy out of my life forever, because . . .

Burke:

Dont worry.

UC-1:

Whats that?

Burke:

I said dont worry he will be.


32.

UC-1 explained to Burke that the Target might be going to Las Vegas the weekend

of October 10, 2015.

UC-1 told Burke that the Target would be in New York the weekend of

October 17, 2015, because the Targets mother would be celebrating her birthday that weekend.
Burke told UC-1 that he (Burke) needed a vehicle and a room for a trip to New York the
week-end of October 10, 2015. Burke confirmed that regardless of whether the Target was going
to be in town or not, he wanted to travel to New York the weekend of October 10, 2015. Based on

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my training and experience, I believe that Burkes intends to travel to New York to conduct
surveillance of the area he understands to be the Targets office in order to plan the murder of
UC-2.
33.

Burke said to UC-1, [h]eres my important goal . . . getting him, ok? Based on

my training and experience, I believe that Burkes reference to getting him meant killing the
Target.
34.

With regard to compensation for the murder of the Target, UC-1 stated to Burke, I

gave you the two, which I understand to be a reference to the payment of $2,000 by UC-1 to
Burke on September 19, 2015. The two men later had the following exchange:
UC-1:

I was gonna give you 18.

Burke:

Yeah.

UC-1:

So you got 20.

Burke:

Yeah.

UC-1:

And I need a little scratch to keep in my back pocket.

Burke:

Yeah.

UC-1:

. . . and thats my money. Thats nobody elses money. Ill give you 20 of mine.

Burke:

Yeah.

UC-1:

Then you got whatever the clubs proceeds are and whatever else he brings.

Burke:

Yeah.
35.

Burke and UC-1 then discussed the possibility that during the murder, the Target

likely will have in his possession proceeds from his businesses as well as the money that UC-1 was
going to borrow, as Burke had suggested during the September 9, 2015 meeting.

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36.

After the meeting, Burke walked to a nearby parking lot carrying a box containing

the two masks UC-1 had given him. Burke then approached the black Nissan and put the box
containing the masks into the trunk of the car. The girlfriend got out of the black Nissan, from the
front drivers-side door and re-entered the car through the front passengers side. Burke then got
into the black Nissan and drove away, with the girlfriend in the passenger seat.
37.

On October 6, 2015, UC-1 called Burke on Burkes cellphone and spoke with

Burke. In that conversation, UC-1 told Burke he had taken steps to get the funds necessary to
make an additional payment to Burke as compensation for murder of the Target. UC-1 told Burke
he would have more information the following day and would let Burke know when he did.
UC-1 also told Burke he had made arrangements for a rental car in New York for Burke as Burke
had instructed.
38.

In the same conversation, Burke said to UC-1 , I love them things you gave me,

in what I understand to be a reference to the masks UC-1 had given Burke at their meeting in
Rhode Island earlier the same day. Burke told UC-1 he had tried a mask on, and that theyre
great, theyre great.
Interstate Travel and Use of Facilities of Interstate or Foreign Commerce
39.

In connection with the various conversations and meetings between UC-1 and

BURKE to discuss the murder of the Target and BURKEs compensation for committing the
murder, BURKE used his cell phone to discuss plans for the murder and to make arrangements to
meet with UC-1 to discuss those plans. For example, BURKE used his cell phone to speak with
UC-1 and to send UC-1 text messages on the following dates, among others, September 10, 11, 16,
and 17, 25, 2015; and October 6 and 8, 2015.

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40.

BURKE also traveled from Massachusetts to New York and Rhode Island on

September 19, 2015, and October 6, 2015, respectively, to discuss the plan to murder the Target.
Probable Cause That Evidence of the Target Offense
Will Be Found At the Target Premises and Target Automobile
41.

Based on my training, knowledge, and experience, including my experience with

this investigation, I believe that it is likely that evidence of the Target Offense will be found at the
Target Premises. In the first place, the murder-for-hire was scheduled for October 17, 2015,
approximately one week away. Accordingly, all of the items that BURKE has acquired for the
purpose of the murder-for-hire, including the mask and firearms, would be stored and waiting for
use. In addition, BURKE has had a lengthy relationship with UC-1, both before and after
beginning the murder-for-hire scheme. I believe that it is likely that BURKE would have
retained, both intentionally and inadvertently, evidence of his communications with UC-1 and
travel to meet with UC-1. BURKE has already been paid a large amount of cash and expected to
receive much more cash, which BURKE likely would not store at a bank for fear of detection.
Accordingly, BURKE would likely store those items at the Target Premises. Finally, as
described above, BURKE told UC-1 that he had been preparing for the murder-for-hire on his
own. I believe that it is likely that BURKE would have evidence of those preparations at the
Target Premises.
42.

I believe that it is likely that evidence of the Target Offense will be found at Target

Premises B. Although Target Premises B is the home the girlfriend, BURKE is often there. In
fact, a GPS order a phone used by BURKE indicates that BURKE spends most overnights there.
In addition, the Target Automobile has been observed primarily at Target Premises B. The
girlfriend also traveled with BURKE when BURKE met with UC-1 in New York and Rhode
14

Island. In fact, BURKE was observed getting into the Target Automobile this morning (October
9, 2015) about one block from Target Premises B. Finally, BURKEs Massachusetts drivers
license lists his address as 3 Everett Avenue 1.
43.

I believe that it is likely evidence of the Target Offense will be found in the Target

Automobile. BURKE drove the Target Automobile to meet with UC-1 on Tuesday, October 6,
2015, approximately two days ago. It is likely that evidence of that trip, such as directions, a
schedule, or travel receipts, is still in the Target Automobile.
44.

Finally, I believe that it is likely that BURKE also kept records on his home

computer, including to set up travel to New York, Rhode Island and elsewhere and to gather
information about the site of the intended crime. For example, in September, 2015, BURKE
purchased a ticket on Amtrak for travel to New York, which he later canceled. That ticket was
purchased online. BURKE also used multiple cellular telephones, including those bearing
numbers 857-251-3530, 617-501-0024, 617-650-6450, 978-552-9922, 857-312-8300,
857-251-3530, and 617-505-8564, to set up meetings with and communicate with UC-1, among
other things. I believe that BURKE possesses additional cellular phones, all of which may have
been involved in the Target Offense. BURKE told UC-1 to get a cellphone to use exclusively to
communicate with him for the murder-for-hire, and that BURKE would do the same. I believe
that BURKE likely used all of those cellular telephones to communicate with the girlfriend and
others. For example, as detailed above, BURKE told UC-1 that he was planning to acquire
firearms from people in New York. BURKE likely used a cellular telephone in furtherance of
that plan. Accordingly, I believe that BURKE had one phone reserved for communicating
exclusively with UC-1 for the purpose of the murder-for-hire scheme and would therefore have
additional phones which he used to communicate with the girlfriend and others, make travel
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arrangements, take pictures, and store additional data.


Seizure Of Computer Equipment And Data
45.

From my training, experience, and information provided to me by other agents, I

am aware of the following:


a.

Individuals frequently use computers to create and store records of their

actions by communicating about them through e-mail, instant messages, and


updates to online social-networking websites; drafting letters; keeping their
calendars; arranging for travel; storing pictures; researching topics of interest;
buying and selling items online; and accessing their bank, financial, investment,
utility, and other accounts online. I am also aware that the Consumer Electronics
Association estimated that in 2010, 86 percent of all U.S. households owned at least
one computer.
b.

Personal computer systems are generally capable of creating, receiving, and

otherwise processing computer files generated at or to be used for business


purposes, including an illegal business, such as a murder-for-hire such as e-mail,
word-processing documents, photographs, and spreadsheets.
c.

From my training, experience, and information provided to me by other

agents, I am aware that individuals commonly store records of the type described in
Attachment B in computer hardware, computer software, smartphones, and storage
media.
45.

Based on my knowledge, training, experience, and information provided to me by

other agents, I know that computer files or remnants of such files can be recovered months or even
years after they have been written, downloaded, saved, deleted, or viewed locally or over the
16

Internet. This is true because:


a.

Electronic files that have been downloaded to a storage medium can be

stored for years at little or no cost. Furthermore, when users replace their
computers, they can easily transfer the data from their old computer to their new
computer.
b.

Even after files have been deleted, they can be recovered months or years

later using forensic tools. This is so because when a person "deletes" a file on a
computer, the data contained in the file does not actually disappear; rather, that data
remains on the storage medium until it is overwritten by new data, which might not
occur for long periods of time. In addition, a computer's operating system may
also keep a record of deleted data in a "swap" or "recovery" file.
c.

Wholly apart from user-generated files, computer storage mediaCin

particular, computers' internal hard drivesCcontain electronic evidence of how the


computer has been used, what it has been used for, and who has used it. This
evidence can take the form of operating system configurations, artifacts from
operating system or application operation, file system data structures, and virtual
memory "swap" or paging files. It is technically possible to delete this
information, but computer users typically do not erase or delete this evidence
because special software is typically required for that task.
d.

Similarly, files that have been viewed over the Internet are sometimes

automatically downloaded into a temporary Internet directory or "cache." The


browser often maintains a fixed amount of hard drive space devoted to these files,
and the files are overwritten only as they are replaced with more recently viewed
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Internet pages or if a user takes steps to delete them.

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46.

Based on my knowledge and training and the experience of other agents with whom

I have spoken, I am aware that in order to completely and accurately retrieve data maintained in
computer hardware, computer software or storage media, to ensure the accuracy and completeness
of such data, and to prevent the loss of the data either from accidental or programmed destruction,
it is often necessary that computer hardware, computer software, computer-related documentation,
and storage media (Acomputer equipment@) be seized and subsequently processed by a qualified
computer specialist in a laboratory setting rather than in the location where it is seized. This is
true because of:
a.

The volume of evidence C storage media such as hard disks, flash drives,

CD-ROMs, and DVD-ROMs can store the equivalent of thousands or, in some
instances, millions of pages of information. Additionally, a user may seek to
conceal evidence by storing it in random order or with deceptive file names.
Searching authorities may need to examine all the stored data to determine which
particular files are evidence, fruits, or instrumentalities of criminal activity. This
process can take weeks or months, depending on the volume of data stored, and it
would be impractical to attempt this analysis on-site.
b.

Technical requirements C analyzing computer hardware, computer

software or storage media for criminal evidence is a highly technical process


requiring expertise and a properly controlled environment. The vast array of
computer hardware and software available requires even computer experts to
specialize in some systems and applications. Thus, it is difficult to know, before
the search, which expert possesses sufficient specialized skill to best analyze the
system and its data. Furthermore, data analysis protocols are exacting procedures,
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designed to protect the integrity of the evidence and to recover even "hidden,"
deleted, compressed, password-protected, or encrypted files. Many commercial
computer software programs also save data in unique formats that are not
conducive to standard data searches. Additionally, computer evidence is
extremely vulnerable to tampering or destruction, both from external sources and
destructive code imbedded in the system as a "booby trap."
Consequently, law enforcement agents may either copy the data at the premises to be searched or
seize the computer equipment for subsequent processing elsewhere.
47.

The premises may contain computer equipment whose use in the crimes or storage

of the things described in this warrant is impractical to determine at the scene. Computer
equipment and data can be disguised, mislabeled, or used without the owner=s knowledge. In
addition, technical, time, safety, or other constraints can prevent definitive determination of their
ownership at the premises during the execution of this warrant. If the things described in
Attachment B are of the type that might be found on any of the computer equipment, this
application seeks permission to search and seize it onsite or off-site in order to determine their true
use or contents, regardless of how their contents or ownership appear or are described by others at
the scene of the search.

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CONCLUSION
48.

Based on the information described above, I have probable cause to believe that

that BURKE has committed the Target Offense.


49.

Based on the information described above, I also have probable cause to believe

that evidence, fruits, and instrumentalities of the Target Office, as described in Attachment B, are
contained within the premises described in Attachment A.

Sworn to under the pains and penalties of perjury,

____________________
BENJAMIN A. ALVIS
Special Agent
Federal Bureau of Investigation
th
y of October, 2015,
Subscribed and sworn to before me on the __
9 day

___________________________________________
_____
_ __
____
____
__
DAVID H. HENNESSY
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
GE
E
DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS

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