A DEA Agent Is Being Sued Over A Decoy Facebook Page Created With A Suspect’s Personal Information

A New York DEA agent is being sued for creating a fake decoy page of a woman arrested on cocaine charges for the purpose of getting her friends and family to incriminate themselves. When Sondra Arquiett was arrested in July 2010 on charges of cocaine possession with intent to distribute, she agreed to hand over her cell phone and let information contained on her phone to be used in an ongoing investigation — which involved a drug distribution ring that was being run by her boyfriend.

What she didn’t expect what that the photos and information on her phone, which included private photos of her and her son, would be used to create the decoy Facebook page. “Arquiett” even posted status updates directed towards her boyfriend which referred to him by nickname. CBS News reports:

In a court filing in August, the Justice Department contended that while Arquiett didn’t directly authorize Sinnigen to create the fake account, she “implicitly consented by granting access to the information stored in her cellphone and by consenting to the use of that information to aid in … ongoing criminal investigations.”

So, you know, just about the difference between loaning someone your sweater and having them dress up and impersonate you. NBD.

A staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation – a civil liberties organization – Nate Cardozo, said the government’s rationale was “laughable.”

“If I’m cooperating with law enforcement, and law enforcement says, ‘Can I search your phone?’ and I hand it over to them, my expectation is that they will search the phone for evidence of a crime – not that they will take things that are not evidence off my phone and use it in another context,” Cardozo said.

Arquiett also stated that she feared for her safety being that the Facebook page gave the impression she was actively working with the DEA to incriminate her associates. Yeah, I am all about getting dangerous criminals off the street but I’m gonna have to side with the plaintiff here. I’ve seen Breaking Bad and some of The Wire I know what happens to people who work with the police. Let’s just they don’t ever get sent a Harry & David gift basket.