Lies, Damned Lies And Facebook Evidence Get FBI Involved In Divorced Couple's Spat

from the sounds-like-a-movie dept

In a story that sounds like a movie plot with a few extra twists in it, last week a man, David Voelkert, was arrested for putting a GPS device on his ex-wife’s car. The backstory behind this is that the ex-wife, Angela Voelkert, had created a fake Facebook profile of a 17-year-old girl, named Jessica Studebaker, and then befriended David to try to “get him to talk” in a way that would provide her ammo in their custody battle. We’ve been hearing how Facebook evidence has become pretty standard these days in divorce cases, so I guess creating a fake persona to try to dig out some extra info is the obvious next step. David Voelkert was apparently extremely forthcoming with the fake teen, telling her how he had put a GPS device on Angela’s car, and said something about harming Angela. He also spoke of taking his kids and “disappearing.” Angela reported this to the authorities, and the FBI stepped in and arrested David over the GPS tracking while investigating the rest.

And that’s where the case turned strange.

After holding him for four days, federal prosecutors have dropped all charges against David. Amazingly, he provided them with a sworn affidavit that he’d had notarized before all of the incriminating messages were sent to “Studebaker,” a letter saying that he believed his wife was behind the account and was trying to “tamper” with his life:

I received a friend request from a one Jessica Studebaker. From the start of that friend request, I was under suspicion that it was not a real person, but my ex-wife or someone she knows. I am talking to this ‘person’ on Facebook via messages through the Facebook mail system. I am lying to this person in extent to gain positive proof that it is indeed my ex-wife trying to again tamper in my life. Anything said in the chat to her from me cannot be held as truth and I am chatting to this person in attempts to prove to my court that my ex-wife will not leave my personal life alone…. The lies that I am placing in this chat is for her to bring such up in court on the 8th day of June, 2011. I need proof what my ex-wife has been doing…. In no way do I have plans to leave with my children or do any harm to Angela Dawn Voelkert or anyone else….

Federal officials checked with the person who notarized the letter, confirming that it was indeed written and signed prior to the messages actually being sent… and realized that they had no case at all.

So how long until the movie rights to this story are sold?

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Comments on “Lies, Damned Lies And Facebook Evidence Get FBI Involved In Divorced Couple's Spat”

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76 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

I wonder...

How would this work for someone talking to adult cops pretending to be underage on the net? People arrested in such stings have tried to claim that they actually thought they were were talking to an adult who was just pretending, but the courts have convicted them anyways because they couldn’t prove it (i.e. they couldn’t prove their innocence).

The guy in this case had the forethought to make sure he could prove his innocence. Still, he was jailed for 4 days. I can’t help but think that if he hadn’t thought to purposely create evidence for himself beforehand, he would have likely been falsely convicted. Innocent until *proved* guilty? Obviously not. More like the other way around.

Anonymous Coward says:

Wow.

What I don’t understand is how can it be illegal to install a GPS device on a vehicle (probably one that HE OWNED) when the FBI do it all the time (without a warrant). So the FBI has admitted that they themselves regularly break the law when they put GPS devices on cars? And why do they refer to it as a ‘listening device’? Like a ‘bug’? I don’t think so.

SUNWARD (profile) says:

Way to go!

I would be careful of using a sworn affidavit in trying to getting off charges.

He still threatens his ex-wife and still put the GPS unit on her car.

No defense on the GPS in my opinion. As for the threats, just because he “thought” it was his ex-wife, doesn’t mean he could break the law – affidavit or not. Child services may still get involved.

And what if the person was not his ex-wife?

Anonymous Coward says:

Way to go!

I would be careful of using a sworn affidavit in trying to getting off charges.

True, but it did work.

He still threatens his ex-wife and still put the GPS unit on her car.

Uhh – what? Did you and I read the same article? He *DIDN’T* threaten her, and he *DIDN’T* put a tracking device on her car.

No defense on the GPS in my opinion.

So – lying about a GPS has “no defense”?

As for the threats, just because he “thought” it was his ex-wife, doesn’t mean he could break the law

Lying is against the law? He didn’t threaten her, he told a lie to a fabricated entity.

I think you might want to brush up on your reading comprehension.

Michial Thompson (user link) says:

Divorce disputes are always funny

I thought I had heard it all in Divorce Dispute Stories, but this one dropped my jaw to the ground!!!!

The only thing I question is the GPS, and not that he did or didn’t do it, but that the car would have been community property at the time, so what would be illegal about the GPS????

I have GPS Trackers in all of my vehicles, and regularly let my girlfriend drive them. They are part of the anti-theft/recovery system, and just happen to let me look up where my car is anytime I want.

Paula says:

David's sister here

The gps charge was because it allegedly was said to also have a mic. The “discovered” device was nothing more than a car alarm. To the one who said this would never be on “The View”… actually they called and that’s the one he’s likely to choose if any (also called was OWN (Oprah), Inside Edition, Good Morning America & others). I’m with you though, I think it should be a lifetime movie, lol.

Ryan says:

Re:

Criminal charges over the wife’s behavior would probably involve stretching existing laws, at best (a la Lori Drew). It was a dirty, nasty trick, but there are plenty of those that are perfectly legal.

But the judge in the existing divorce (civil) suit can certainly hold the wife’s tricks against her, especially if it’s part of a larger pattern of evil. Dirty nasty behavior (even if legal) on the part of a parent is a common reason for judges to reduce that parent’s custody rights. The idea is that it’s not in a child’s best interest to be primarily raised by the more ethically-challenged parent.

Hugh Mann (profile) says:

Interesting idea....

Next time I’m thinking of putting a hit out on somebody, I’ll write up one of these letters ahead of time, just in case I have to abandon the plan.

Seriously, while this was certainly sorta clever, he took a big risk. He intended to put his (ex?) wife in fear for her life. Whether he was lying about his intentions or not, there may be consequences for his threats against her. And the issue is not whether he meant it or really intended to follow through on the threat, but whether it was reasonable for her to believe it.

In any case, it sounds like they’re both pretty wacked-out folks.

HM

MB says:

Funny but strange precedent

While the story is pretty funny, this seems like a strange precedent to be setting.

For example, conspiracy to commit a crime is a punishable offense, and agreeing to and planning a crime is conspiracy, but what if all parties have pre-signed affidavits saying that their planning to blow up a building is just a twisted game they enjoy playing and never actually intend to do it?

That Anonymous Coward says:

Interesting idea....

Look daddy… matching gravitars…
I think they’ve brought their craziness here!

Oooh oooh oooh there is a silver box hidden in the engine compartment of your car… have your buddy rip that one out to… to prove its a device that allows the aliens to teleport you away.

While I am sorry that your getting divorced and stuff, do you think you could behave like grown ups?

You don’t have to like each other, but going out of your way to “win” is going to fuck over your kids.

I wonder if the 2 of you had put as much effort into working out how to handle parenting your kids as you did in trying to screw each other on FB how amazing your kids lives would be.

When your kids are older, please work out what your going to say to them about how mommy and daddy lost their damn minds… and work on your apology.

hmm (profile) says:

but

Is it me or do they give out FBI badges free these days with boxes of Wheaty Flakes?

Also if the wife tried to get the husband (via the fake profile) to kill her, thats the (admittedly stupid) wife trying to coerce someone into helping her commit suicide.
(suicide still sort of being illegal in the US), this means she could face prison time (where she’ll create a fake persona and pretend she’s in for murder so the other big butch prisoners don’t shower-rape her!)

Jeni (profile) says:

Re:

Yes, that’s pretty extreme.

I’m torn on this one, human nature being what it is and all… I mean, what he did was pretty good overall and one could kind of say it was “self defense” of a sort, but wouldn’t it have been far better to ignore the fake profile and not engage in such hideous game playing? Look at the example he’s set (especially for young people/kids). Now tons of people are going to try to play this kind of game on others. Let the games begin…

In other words, what can of worms did he open up? It may not all be “good”.

On the other hand, if it would make silly women who play these silly games think twice it could serve a good purpose. Somehow though, I can’t see it working that way.

Anonymous Coward says:

Interesting idea....

The manipulation has been dealt with for a long time, and the court has ignored it. The ONLY way to prove this woman was stalking him was to set her up, it is just popular because he did so only in a way no one would think. She tried to set him up and he used that to turn the tables. This all would never have happened if she was not a manipulating little b****. He didn’t go after her, stalk her, he just seen an opportunity because she was trying to stalk him, yet again, and he jumped on it. There were many factors to him not getting into trouble, not just the affidavit. You cannot just write an affidavit and commit a crime, but with that he shows that he KNEW it was her. He actually did not commit one crime, even without the affidavit. So before you think you can get out of a crime that way, think again, it won’t work. He didn’t actually commit a crime, and he just wanted the proof in court to show he knew it was her. Otherwise, it would be just his word against hers. He also had to make the ‘crime’ big enough for her to bring it up in court, I think it was big enough for her to manipulate the FBI into arresting him. I was told that a Gale Dodd from Dodd Insurance is the one that called the FBI, so he may be charged as well. The FBI should be wondering why they are so stupid to listen to these people and arrest someone on the defense of a custody battle. David Voelkert is not the one that is bringing all this out, he just wanted proof to his judge about his manipulating wife. If this isn’t the proof he needed, what else does he need? Just so this is clear, he is just trying to see his kids and this manipulating little b**** has been trying to stop his visitation since HE LEFT HER for cheating. The story will all come out soon, just stay tuned.

nasch (profile) says:

Funny but strange precedent

For example, conspiracy to commit a crime is a punishable offense, and agreeing to and planning a crime is conspiracy, but what if all parties have pre-signed affidavits saying that their planning to blow up a building is just a twisted game they enjoy playing and never actually intend to do it?

And there was no bomb, they had no bomb-making materials, and never approached the building? I would say no crime was committed, what do you think?

K.E.Mort (profile) says:

Classic.

So now on the GPS, yea if the car was owned by him then there’s no issue. It’s his property. Just like LoJack or heck OnStar…they can track the vehicle. Perfectly legal.

Now if it’s her car, owned entirely by her then that’s a different matter.

Interesting though the affidavit pretty much covers any matter of sins. It basically says anything I say is likely untrue, but doesn’t mention the GPS issue at all.

It really was a brilliant plan, akin to entrapment on her part really but he turned it around. Pretty sweet.

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