NEW YORK (AP) — Two Florida residents have pleaded guilty to a plan to sell diaries and other items stolen from President Joe Biden’s daughter to conservative group Project Veritas for $40,000, prosecutors say. the official said on Thursday.
Amy Harris and Robert Kurlander “tried to profit from stealing other people’s personal belongings,” Manhattan federal prosecutor Damian Williams said in a statement.
Harris, 40, from Palm Beach, and Kurlander, 58, from nearby Jupiter, face up to five years in prison. They pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen goods across state lines.
“She has accepted responsibility for her actions and is looking forward to moving on with her life,” Harris’ attorney Sam Tokin said.Kurlander’s attorney, Florian Miedel, declined to comment. .
Authorities have not identified anyone other than the defendants, but details of the investigation have been public for months.
The president’s daughter, Ashley Biden, was moving out of a friend’s house in Delray Beach, Florida, in the spring of 2020.
Harris then moves into the same room, finds the item and contacts Kurlander, who enthusiastically tells him that he will help him make “tons of money” by selling it, and before “tons” Added taunts.
The two initially sought to sell some of the stolen property to then-President Donald Trump’s campaign, but representatives turned them down and took the materials to the FBI, according to court documents. I said
Kurlander explained to Harris in a September 2020 text message, “This can’t work,” adding, “You’ve got to do it differently.”
Their next destination was Project Veritas, which paid for the two to transport some of their materials, including diaries and digital devices containing family photos, to a luxury hotel in New York, prosecutors said. .
Project Veritas staff met with Kurlander and Harris in New York and agreed to pay the first $10,000, saying more money could come if more Ashley Biden items were recovered from the house. .
Upon returning to Florida, prosecutors said Kurlander emailed Harris a candid assessment of the outcome of the exchange.
“They’re in sketchy business, here they literally got stolen diaries and information… and stories that could ruin Ashley Biden’s life and influence the impending presidential election. ,” he wrote in the paper. He added that the two would have to “behave more discreetly” and take “things of value” out of the Delray Beach home, according to court documents.
Prosecutors said Kurlander and Harris took Ashley Biden’s stored tax documents, clothing and luggage, and Kurlander pressured Project Veritas in messages to promise a larger payment. . This is not fair. ”
Project Veritas staff quickly flew to Florida, employees shipped items to New York, and the group paid Harris and Kurlander $20,000 each, prosecutors said.
Project Veritas identifies itself as a news agency. Best known for conducting hidden camera sting operations that embarrassed the press, labor groups, and Democratic politicians.
“Project Veritas’ news gathering was ethical and legal,” the group said in a statement Thursday. in the room.
Project Veritas said Thursday, “It is routine, commonplace, and protected by the First Amendment for journalists to legally receive material that was later allegedly stolen.
Neither Project Veritas nor its staff have been charged with a crime.
As part of the investigation, the FBI raided the group’s New York office and the homes of some employees. A New York court appointed a former federal judge to review materials seized in these searches to prevent investigators from seeing materials protected by journalism or attorney client privileges.
In general, media organizations are not responsible for receiving potentially stolen material unless they were involved in the theft. However, if you orchestrate the theft and knowingly pay for the stolen material, you may face criminal charges.
“There is no First Amendment protection against theft or interstate transportation of stolen goods,” the federal attorney’s office wrote in a court filing last year.
O’Keeffe said Project Veritas was unable to conclusively confirm that the diary belonged to Ashley Biden. The group has not released information from it.
He added, “There is no question that Project Veritas did the right thing every step of the way.”
Ashley Biden, a 41-year-old social worker, is the daughter of President and First Lady Jill Biden. His eldest daughter and his first wife died in a car accident in 1972.
Associate Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed from Philadelphia.