The child pornography case against a California doctor whose computer was searched after he submitted it to Best Buy’s Geek Squad for repair has been dismissed after a judge ruled that an FBI agent made “several false or misleading statements or omissions … with reckless disregard for the truth” in a search warrant affidavit.

The case against oncologist Mark Rettenmaier attracted national attention because it revealed that technicians at the Geek Squad’s central repair facility in Kentucky had been paid by the FBI and would tip off the FBI field office in Louisville when they spotted possible child pornography on computers. Computers taken to Best Buy stores around the country for repair are all shipped to the Kentucky facility.

In May, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department seeking records “concerning the FBI’s relationship with Best Buy and other computer repair facilities.” The privacy group first filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI in February, after The Washington Post reported the link between Best Buy and the FBI, but the FBI declined to disclose the information.

Best Buy said that its technicians do not search customers’ computers seeking illicit material but that when they happen to see it while doing repair, they are obligated to report it. They do so about 100 times a year, a Best Buy spokesman said.

“Geek Squad does not work for the FBI and never has,” the company said in a statement in May.

When Rettenmaier took his HP Pavilion desktop to the Best Buy in Mission Viejo, Calif., in 2011, he consented to have it searched while being repaired to recover any lost photos. No warrant is needed for such a search.

But Rettenmaier’s attorney, James D. Riddet, discovered that the FBI made payments to some of the technicians who tipped them off to pornography, often about $500, and considered them “confidential human sources” in internal records.

Riddet raised the issue of whether that made the Geek Squad employees de facto FBI employees – and therefore government agents who would need a search warrant.

On Rettenmaier’s computer, a technician found one photo of a naked girl, believed to be 9 years old. But the FBI used the discovery of that photo to obtain a search warrant for Rettenmaier’s home and other computers. Carney said that search was illegal because it wouldn’t have been authorized if FBI agents had accurately described what was originally found on Rettenmaier’s computer in Kentucky.

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