Ken Kurson, Who Was Pardoned by Trump, Faces Fees in New York

Seven months after being pardoned by President Donald J. Trump, a onetime editor of The New York Observer faces new costs of unlawfully spying on his former spouse by secretly getting access to her laptop.

The editor, Ken Kurson, an in depth good friend of Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was charged in state felony courtroom in Manhattan on Wednesday with eavesdropping and laptop trespass, each felonies. Prosecutors accuse Mr. Kurson of utilizing spyware and adware to breach his spouse’s laptop in 2015 because the couple’s marriage fell aside. Every crime is punishable by as much as 4 years in jail.

“We is not going to settle for presidential pardons as get-out-of-jail-free playing cards for the well-connected in New York,” the Manhattan district legal professional, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., stated in an announcement asserting the fees.

A lawyer for Mr. Kurson, Marc L. Mukasey, declined to remark.

Mr. Kurson used a software program program referred to as WebWatcher to observe his spouse’s laptop keystrokes from The Observer’s places of work in Midtown Manhattan, which allowed him to get the passwords to her Gmail and Fb accounts, in response to the criticism. He used the illicit entry to spy on her from September 2015 to March 2016, prosecutors stated. The couple divorced in January 2016.

The criticism stated Mr. Kurson’s spouse labored at a summer season camp in 2015, the place she turned pleasant with one in every of her co-workers. They stayed in contact after the summer season was over, and the director of the camp later acquired an electronic mail containing copies of personal conversations between the 2, the criticism stated. Based mostly on that data, investigators imagine that Mr. Kurson monitored his spouse’s conversations along with her co-worker.

Mr. Kurson was not a very adept consumer of WebWatcher, and he contacted this system’s customer support representatives a number of occasions, each to assist him entry his spouse’s messages and to reassure him that she wouldn’t be capable to detect the software program, the criticism stated.

“Like if somebody on the Apple retailer is LOOKING for it, will they be capable to discover it?” he requested on one event in October 2015.

The fees are the newest twist in a case that first started in spring 2018 when the Trump administration nominated Mr. Kurson for a seat on the board of the Nationwide Endowment for the Humanities.

After the F. B.I. started a routine background examine into Mr. Kurson, investigators quickly realized of allegations that he had harassed a number of folks, one in every of them a physician at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Final October, federal prosecutors charged Mr. Kurson with cyberstalking and harassing three folks, together with the physician, whom he blamed for the collapse of his marriage. On the time, Mr. Mukasey stated that “the conduct alleged is hardly worthy of a federal felony prosecution.”

However Mr. Kurson’s accusers stated that his habits — which included focusing on the physician with unfavourable Yelp evaluations, threatening emails and insinuations in calls to her workplace that she was having an affair, in response to the federal criticism — had been “diabolical.”

A footnote within the federal criticism talked about that along with the habits for which he was being charged, Mr. Kurson had engaged in a sample of harassment that included “putting in software program on one particular person’s laptop to observe that particular person’s keystrokes and web site utilization with out his/her data or authorization.”

Along with his ties to Mr. Kushner, Mr. Kurson is a former speechwriter for Rudolph W. Giuliani, the previous New York Metropolis mayor and a private lawyer for Mr. Trump. He additionally confronted criticism through the 2016 presidential election for advising Mr. Trump on a speech.

Court docket paperwork filed in November 2020 indicated that Mr. Kurson was in plea negotiations with federal prosecutors. However in his ultimate hours in workplace, Mr. Trump rendered these talks moot by pardoning Mr. Kurson, together with quite a few the president’s different associates, together with his former chief strategist, Stephen Okay. Bannon.

The New York Instances reported in February that Mr. Vance, a Democrat, had opened separate investigations into the conduct that led to the federal costs towards Mr. Kurson and Mr. Bannon, elevating the prospect of state costs, from which Mr. Trump’s pardon didn’t defend them. (The investigation into Mr. Bannon is ongoing.)

Mr. Vance’s workplace charged Paul J. Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former marketing campaign chairman, with mortgage fraud and different felonies in 2019. A New York appeals courtroom later dominated that the costs violated the state’s double jeopardy regulation.

However Mr. Manafort had already been tried and convicted on federal fraud costs the 12 months earlier than. Mr. Kurson has by no means been tried and New York’s double jeopardy regulation bars a second prosecution solely when a jury has beforehand been empaneled or the defendant has pleaded responsible.

It was unclear whether or not Mr. Kurson’s former spouse is cooperating with the district legal professional’s workplace. In a written clarification about why the president had pardoned Mr. Kurson, the Trump administration stated she had written a letter to federal prosecutors asking them to drop their case.

In July, Mr. Vance charged Mr. Trump’s household enterprise, the Trump Group, in addition to its longtime chief monetary officer, with taking part in a sweeping, yearslong scheme to evade taxes on sure advantages.

The investigation into Mr. Kurson was led by the district legal professional’s bureau of cybercrime and id theft, which has been a precedence for Mr. Vance.

William Okay. Rashbaum and Ben Protess contributed reporting.

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