Two Plead Guilty in Stolen Diary Case

September 3, 2022 Theft/Property Crimes

Two people have pled guilty in a case involving the scheme to peddle President Joe Biden’s daughter’s personal belongings. The two defendants sold the stolen property to conservative activist group Project Veritas for $40,000.

We will explain the details of the case, along with information on possession of stolen property charges in Florida.

What was the Incident?

According to the details of the investigation, President Biden’s daughter Ashley Biden stored a diary, tax records, a digital device with family photos, and a phone in Delray Beach, Florida in 2020. The home was where one of the accused individuals was living at the time.

The woman allegedly stole the items and started contact with the other defendant, who then contacted an activist group called Project Veritas. The group allegedly requested images of the stolen items and then paid for the two defendants to bring the items to New York.

Project Veritas considers itself a news organization and is best known for conducting hidden camera stings. They have done so in the past to embarrass news outlets, labor organizations, and Democratic politicians.

According to the investigation, Project Veritas paid the two defendants $20,000 each for the stolen items belonging to Ashley Biden. The organization claimed to have received the diary from “tipsters” who said the diary was left abandoned in the room.

Founder James O’Keefe claims that the group then handed over the diary to the authorities, and never partook in any illegal activities. Project Veritas is stating that they never published any information from the diary since they were unable to confirm that it even belonged to Ashley Biden.

Now that the police have been involved and an investigation has taken place, the two individuals responsible have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property.

Former Federal Judge Appointed for Case

U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres appointed Barbara Jones to oversee the case and the separation of privileged materials found during recent raids to see how the group received the stolen diary.

Judge Torres claimed that it was imperative to get a neutral party in the case rather than leave it entirely to the individual prosecution team who are separate from the criminal team working on the case.

“In light of the potential First Amendment concerns that may be implicated by the review of the materials seized from Petitioners,” Judge Torres said. “The court finds that the appointment of a special master will ‘help to protect the public’s confidence in the administration of justice.”

According to Torres’ process, the extracting of materials gathered from the raids will be completed by the government and determine which are responsive to search warrants. Then the prosecutor’s filter team will conduct a review in which they determine which objects are concerns for the First Amendment, journalistic privileges, and attorney-client privileges.

After this, the attorneys for Project Veritas will be able to review the materials that have been deemed acceptable to be turned over to the investigation team, and raise any objections if there are any, which will be ruled on by Jones.

Project Veritas’ founder, James O’Keefe, claimed in a video back in October that his “news organization” never engaged in any illegal conduct, and that they have “acted appropriately at each and every step.”

Possession of Stolen Property in Florida

Stolen property is generally defined as when an individual offers, sells or traffics another person’s personal property which the accused person knew or should have known or had reason to believe did not belong to them. There are different sections of the Florida Statute that cover stolen property and the penalties that come with violating the State’s laws.

Florida Statute Section 812.012 explains the following terms of possession of stolen property:

  • “Obtains or uses” refers to having control over the property, illegally transferring or selling property, or obtaining the property by fraudulent activities.
  • “Property” refers to the item of value, while the “property of another” refers to the item or object that individuals can’t infringe upon with the consent of the owner.
  • “Cargo” refers to the shipment, containers, or boxes of property that have been transported by car, plane, boat, etc.
  • “Dealer in property” refers to the individual who is dealing with the sale of stolen property.
  • “Traffic” refers to the selling, transferring, buying, and/or controlling of property with the intent of selling the property.

It is important to note that the accused person can face criminal charges for theft and for dealing stolen property, but can never be found guilty of both. The defendant can only be found guilty for one of the two offenses.

Florida Statute 812.019 describes dealing in stolen property as when a person traffics or attempts to traffic property that he or she is aware has been stolen. This is considered a second-degree felony in Florida. The penalty for this crime is up to a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.

For the individual who initiates, organizes, plans, finances, directs, manages, or supervises the theft of property and traffics in such stolen property, it is considered a first-degree felony. The penalty for this crime is up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison.

To find out more about stolen property in Florida, read our informative page here.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, it is in your best interest to seek out the legal advice of a skilled defense attorney. A guilty criminal conviction can lead to expensive fines, jail time, and the stigma of carrying a criminal charge on your permanent record. The best way to strategize a strong defense for your case is to work with an experienced attorney. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented clients across the state for various criminal charges. Call us today at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our site for a free consultation.

Written by Karissa Key

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