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Tallahassee Criminal Attorney > Blog > Criminal > Florida Journalist Charged with Wiretapping, Violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

Florida Journalist Charged with Wiretapping, Violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act


A Florida-based independent journalist is facing several serious charges filed by the Justice Department. These include 14 felony counts alleging conspiracy, wiretapping, and violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The indictment was unsealed in February 2024. FBI agents raided the defendant’s home and office in May of last year in connection to a criminal investigation into “alleged computer intrusions and intercepted communications at Fox News Network.” Federal agents seized a total of 9 computers, seven hard drives, four cell phones, and four notebooks from the defendant’s home and the guesthouse that serves as his office. Only a small portion of the confiscated materials has been returned.

The indictment alleges that the defendant and an unnamed co-conspirator used “compromised credentials” to access websites and live feeds of two New York City-based media companies to download and disseminate materials.

The defendant is charged with:

  • 1 count of conspiracy
  • 6 counts of accessing a protected computer without authorization
  • 5 counts of wiretapping
  • 2 counts of disclosing communications obtained through illegal wiretapping

An attorney representing the defendant denied that his client committed any crimes and warned that the charges could set a precedent that could make routine investigative journalism techniques a felony.

Federal wiretapping charges 

There are a few different federal laws that cover wiretapping. The main rule is found in Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safety Streets Act of 1968. This rule makes it a crime to intentionally intercept any wire or electronic communication. Intercept here means acquiring the contents of any communication through the use of a device. The law covers telephone calls, in-person conversations, emails, texts, or website material. You can be charged under the statute if you:

  • Intentionally tap someone’s phone
  • Bug their office
  • Hack into their email
  • Otherwise secretly monitor their communications

Those who are found guilty under the federal wiretapping statute can be sentenced to 5 years in federal prison.

The law further prohibits disclosing or using any information that you get through an illegal wiretap. The aforementioned defendant is facing charges on both counts. Both are punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

While a lone offense for wiretapping may not result in prison time (necessarily), it can. There have been several notable cases of wiretapping over the years some of which resulted in extensive prison time.

In one case, Anthony Pellicano spent 15 years in prison after being convicted on 76 counts of illegal wiretapping. Pellicano was accused of illegally wiretapping celebrities and bribing officers to run illegal background checks.

In another high-profile case, Linda Tripp was charged with secretly recording conversations between Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton concerning their affair. Ultimately, she served no jail time. But she was charged and convicted of illegal wiretapping Lewinsky by recording her phone calls without her knowledge or consent. Tripp was ultimately sentenced to one year of probation, community service, and had to pay a $1,000 fine.

Talk to a Tallahassee Criminal Defense Lawyer Today 

Luke Newman, P.A. represents the interests of those charged with both state and federal crimes. If you are charged with a federal crime, you need an attorney who has experience representing defendants facing federal charges. Call our Tallahassee criminal defense lawyers today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.



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