Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Justice Department settles case after DEA set up fake Facebook page in woman's name

Deal comes after federal drug agents used information from New York woman’s cellphone to set up a fake Facebook page in her name

The Justice Department has reached a $134,000 settlement with a New York woman after federal drug agents used information from her cellphone to set up a fake Facebook page in her name, a tactic that raised privacy concerns and led to a federal government review of the ruse, according to court papers filed on Tuesday.

The government did not admit wrongdoing as part of its settlement with Sondra Arquiett, which comes months after a judge referred both sides into mediation. But after initially defending the actions, the Justice Department in October said it would review whether the undercover tactic went too far.

The settlement settles allegations that the Drug Enforcement Administration took photos and other information from Arquiett’s cellphone to create a fake Facebook page in hopes of tricking her friends and associates into revealing incriminating drug secrets. A DEA agent created the fake social media page after Arquiett was arrested as part of a drug investigation. Court papers show she pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge and was sentenced in 2012 to time served and given a period of home confinement.

She sued the federal government last year, saying she suffered “fear and great emotional distress” and was endangered because the fake page gave the impression that she was cooperating with a federal investigation.


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