DOJ Pays $134,000 To Settle Case Of DEA Agents Impersonating A Woman On Facebook

from the dea-out-of-control dept

Back in the fall, we wrote about how the DEA impersonated a woman on Facebook, even posting photographs of her young children (which they had taken off of her phone), in order to try to track down drug dealers. The woman, Sondra Arquiett, had dated a guy who was convicted of drug dealing, and had herself been charged with letting her boyfriend store some drugs in her apartment, leading to a sentence of probation. DEA agent Timothy Sinnegen then took the photos off of her phone, set up a fake Facebook page pretending to be Arquiett and tried to "friend" people she knew, in trying to track down other drug dealers. Arquiett was totally unaware of this until a friend brought it up, leading her to sue the DEA.

A few days ago, the Justice Department agreed to settle the case, paying her $134,000 for her troubles. As with many settlements, this one includes the government insisting that the settlement is not an admission of any guilt for its actions -- though it also leaves open that Arquiett could seek to get some attorneys' fees as well. Both Facebook and Senator Leahy had criticized the government for this action, and the DOJ promised to review this kind of practice -- though that review is still "ongoing." Either way, in this case, the DOJ realized that it was best to just pay up rather than let the case go much further.

Even so, the statement from the feds is fairly ridiculous:
U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York, Richard Hartunian, who previously had defended the agent’s behavior in court filings, issued a statement Tuesday calling the settlement “a fair resolution.” He said it “demonstrates that the government is mindful of its obligation to ensure the rights of third parties are not infringed upon in the course of its efforts to bring those who commit federal crimes to justice.”
Sorry, but if the government is actually "mindful of its obligations to ensure the rights of third parties are not infringed upon," then, uh, it shouldn't have impersonated people in the first place. Hopefully this settlement means it will not do so again in the future.

Filed Under: dea, doj, impersonation, social media, sondra arquiett, timothy sinnegen
Companies: facebook

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2015 @ 2:14pm

    I am sure that it is a huge deterrent to the fine folks at the DEA that they may have to disburse more of our tax dollars if they are caught doing this again.

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