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Two Florida residents pleaded guilty in federal court in New York City on Thursday to stealing the diary and other possessions of President Biden’s daughter, Ashley, and selling them to the conservative group Project Veritas during the final weeks of the 2020 presidential election.
Aimee Harris and Robert Kurlander pleaded guilty Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah L. Cave to conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property involving the theft of personal belongings of an immediate family member of a then-former government official who was a candidate for national political office.
They will be sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain.
“Harris and Kurlander stole personal property from an immediate family member of a candidate for national political office,” Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “They sold the property to an organization in New York for $40,000 and even returned to take more of the victim’s property when asked to do so. Harris and Kurlander sought to profit from their theft of another person’s personal property, and they now stand convicted of a federal felony as a result.”
Ashley Biden had stored the property, including a handwritten journal containing highly personal entries, tax records, a digital storage card containing private family photographs, and a cellphone, among other things, in a private residence in Delray Beach, Florida, at which defendant Harris had been temporarily residing, according to court documents.
After Harris, 40, of Palm Beach, Florida, stole the property, she enlisted Kurlander, 58, of Jupiter, Florida, to help her facilitate a sale.
They both then made contact with an “organization” based in Mamaroneck, New York, which instructed them to use an encrypted application to send photos of the items stolen from Biden’s daughter. The organization paid transportation costs for them to transport the items to New York City. Ultimately, they were compensated $20,000 for the stolen property, according to the Justice Department.
Project Veritas called its news gathering “ethical and legal.”
“A journalist’s lawful receipt of material later alleged to be stolen is routine, commonplace, and protected by the First Amendment,” the organization said in a statement.
Harris and Kurlander pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property, which carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
“As they’ve admitted with today’s pleas, the defendants conspired to steal an individual’s personal property, which they subsequently sold to a third party and delivered across state lines,” FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll said in a statement. “As a consequence of their actions, they now face punishment in the federal criminal justice system for their crimes. I’d like to thank the Public Corruption Units at both the FBI’s New York Office and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York for their dedicated effort in this case.”