Two plead guilty in connection to stolen diary allegedly belonging to Biden’s daughter
The Justice Department announced Thursday that Aimee Harris, 40, and Robert Kurlander, 58, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property involving the theft of ” personal effects of an immediate family member of a then-former government official who was a candidate for national political office.
Almost two weeks before the 2020 election, parts of the newspaper – which had disappeared earlier during the campaign – were published online on a right-wing website.
Conservative group Project Veritas, which did not publish the diary, claimed it allegedly belonged to the daughter of then-presidential candidate Joe Biden and that the diary had been provided to them by a alert”.
While the conservative group claimed the diary was obtained legally, the FBI launched an investigation into how the diary ended up in the hands of the organization. Officers carried out two searches at the homes of people linked to the activist group in November 2021.
In its Thursday announcement, the Justice Department said that Harris and Kurlander, circa September 2020, “conspired to steal”, transport and sell “personal property belonging to an individual” referred to as a “victim.”
FBI Deputy Director Michael J. Driscoll said in a statement that the two defendants “conspired to steal an individual’s personal property, which they then sold to a third party and delivered across US borders. State”.
“As a result of their actions, they now risk being punished by the federal criminal justice system for their crimes,” Driscoll said.
The Justice Department said both men knew the items belonged to an immediate family member of a political candidate. According to the department, Harris was staying at a property in Delray Beach, Florida, where the items had been stored by the victim. Items included the diary, tax records, a storage card with private family photos and a cell phone. Harris, according to the Justice Department, stole these items and, along with Kurlander, contacted an organization based in Mamaroneck, NY; Project Veritas is headquartered there. The organization, the Justice Department said, paid them each $20,000 for the stolen goods and had them transport the items to New York.
According to the Justice Department, the organization asked Harris and Kurlander to return to Florida and obtain more items from the property, which Harris still had access to.
In a statement, Project Veritas said its “information gathering was ethical and legal.”
Harris and Kurlander pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. They also agreed to waive the $20,000 paid. Kurlander, as part of his plea deal, agreed to cooperate with the department’s investigation.
This is the first time that charges have been brought against the theft of the newspaper.
According to the Justice Department investigation, the owner of the stolen property — who the department never identifies as Ashley Biden — was staying with a friend at the Florida residence around spring 2020 and vacated the property around June 2020 , leaving behind the staff articles courtesy of the friend. The same friend, a few days after Biden left, invited Harris to temporarily stay in his room, where she found the items. Almost two months later, Harris asked Kurlander to help sell the property. Kurlander promised Harris that he would help her earn money by selling the items.
In September 2020, the two had contacted a political campaign hoping to sell the items, but the campaign declined, according to the Justice Department. This campaign instead advised the two men to turn the items over to the FBI.
In a text to Harris, Kurlander declined to do so and said selling the items should “be done in a different way.” It was then that they contacted the conservative organization.