Wednesday January 21,2015 : SEARCHING QUESTIONS ON U.S. ENFORCEMENT TACTICS
Some the ruses employed by federal agents push the envelope.
Questions around the tactics deployed by federal enforcement agencies in their actions against alleged criminals again surfaced this week with the news that, without admitting wrongdoing, the US Justice Department has agreed a $134,000 settlement with New York plaintiff Sondra Arquiett.
Reporting on the settlement, the Associated Press news agency revealed that Arquiett was arrested by federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents in 2010 and pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy charge and on which she was lightly sentenced in 2012.
Whilst in Arquiett was in custody federal agents allegedly lifted pictures and information from her seized cellphone and used these to create a false Facebook page in her name, with the objective of luring suspects and obtaining information. The DEA operated that Facebook account for three months in her name, she claims.
Arquiett launched litigation against the government for this questionable use of her identity and the possible dangers it posed for her, along with the breach of her privacy, however a judge ordered both parties to seek mediation and after initially defending its actions, the government reached a settlement, albeit without admitting fault.
However, the Justice Department did announce last October that it would review the case and the tactics used by the agents.
Richard Hartunian, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York, said in a statement on the settlement that it "…takes into account emerging personal privacy concerns in the age of social media, and represents a fair resolution of plaintiff's claims."
Associated Press used the renewed interest in the case to reprise its report on another questionable tactic deployed by federal enforcement agents, this one involving the Associated Press title.
In that case, in 2007 the FBI sent a fake news story it attributed to The Associated Press to trick a suspect in a bomb-threat case into clicking on a website link and revealing his location.
The news agency objected that the FBI's practice was "unacceptable" and "undermined AP's credibility."
More recently and relevantly for the gambling industry, the tactics of FBI agents in the high profile Paul Phua illegal sports betting case are under judicial scrutiny in Las Vegas.
Our readers will recall that Phua and associates were busted in a Caesar's Palace luxury villa after federal agents arranged for their internet feed to be cut off, and then gained entry by pretending to be repairmen in order to obtain evidence for a search warrant.
A federal judge is considering the circumstances and is expected to issue a finding soon.