Tags: Patrick Leahy | fake Facebook page | DEA | Justice Department

Sen. Leahy: DOJ Should Condemn DEA on Fake Facebook Page

Image: Sen. Leahy: DOJ Should Condemn DEA on Fake Facebook Page
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014 01:48 PM

The Justice Department should condemn the Drug Enforcement Administration's decision to use a woman's identity to create a fake Facebook page for catching criminals, said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

"I hope the Justice Department will agree that creating an online profile using an unsuspecting person's identity to communicate with criminals is unethical, potentially dangerous, and should not be condoned by our nation's law enforcement agencies," Leahy wrote in a letter  Tuesday to Attorney General Eric Holder, reports The Hill.

Earlier this month, BuzzFeed reported that a DEA used private images of the woman, some with her in sexually suggestive photos, to interact with criminals.

The woman, Sondra Arquiett, has filed a lawsuit against the DEA agent who used her pictures on the fake profile, which he set up in 2011.

The "appalling" fake page endangered not only Arquiett, but her child, who was included in some of the woman's photographs, said Leahy.

"This exploitation put her and the minor children in her photographs at risk without their knowledge," Leahy said.

Arquiett gave DEA officers permission to access her cell phone after she pleaded guilty to drug charges in 2011 and was sentenced to probation for being involved in a boyfriend's drug operation. However, Leahy said, the DEA did not have her permission to use her photographs, reports The Hill.

She is demanding $250,000 in her lawsuit,  saying DEA agent Timothy Sinnigen was using the Facebook page to interact with "dangerous individuals he was investigating.

"Facebook has long made clear that law enforcement authorities are subject to these policies," Sullivan wrote. "We regard DEA's conduct to be a knowing and serious breach of Facebook's terms and policies."

Facebook also wants the DEA to confirm that it has stopped using any other fake profile pages it may have created.

"The department has launched a review into the incident at issue in this case," Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said in response to a request for comment. "That review is ongoing, but to our knowledge, this is not a widespread practice among our federal law enforcement agencies."

Facebook took the profile down and condemned the DEA for undermining the social media site's terms of service and platform.

However, Leahy said, the U.S. attorney's office in New York has "thus far defended the
practice."

"I understand that cooperating defendants often provide critical assistance to criminal
investigations," he said in his letter to Holder. "However, the decision to cooperate and the nature of that cooperation is a decision to be made by the defendant and the defendant alone. Law enforcement agencies should not risk the safety of innocents or those who are serving their debt to society without their knowledge or consent."

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The Justice Department should condemn the Drug Enforcement Administration's decision to use a woman's identity to create a fake Facebook page for catching criminals, said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
Patrick Leahy, fake Facebook page, DEA, Justice Department
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2014-48-22
Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014 01:48 PM
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