A veteran IRS employee has been charged with leaking Michael Cohen’s
banking records to Michael Avenatti federal prosecutors announced Thursday.
54-year-old John C. Fry has been charged with one count of unlawful disclosure of information obtained from Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) and was released on $50,000 bond after appearing in federal court in San Francisco.
Fox News reports:
According to an affidavit by Linda Cieslak, a special agent with the U.S. Department of Treasury, Fry repeatedly searched law enforcement databases for information relating to Cohen. Fry, an investigative analyst for the IRS’ law enforcement arm who has worked for the agency since 2008, is accused of gaining access to five SARs, which are filed by banks when transactions are spotted that raise questions about possible financial misconduct.
One of the reports John C. Fry accessed showed Michael Cohen’s Essential Consultants had received a total of $500,000 from Columbus Nova, a company associated with Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch who donated money to Trump’s inauguration fund. Other payments to Essential Consultants came from AT&T ($200,000) and pharmaceutical company Novartis (approximately $399,920).
Cieslak said Fry called Michael Avenatti from his cellphone three separate times and relayed the information from the SARs to Avenatti verbally.
The agent added that Fry admitted to doing so when investigators confronted him in November.
The affidavit says Avenatti made the information he obtained from Fry public on Twitter May 8, writing: “Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen have a lot of explaining to do.” Avenatti declined to say how he obtained the records, telling Fox News at the time: “That’s my work product and will not be disclosed.”
The affidavit also includes exchanges between Fry and reporter Ronan Farrow.
Farrow, (identified as “Reporter-1” in the affidavit) wrote in an article for the New Yorker magazine about the motives behind the leak, published on May 16, that the law enforcement official who released the report had grown concerned after he was unable to find two other reports on Cohen’s financial activity that he believed should have been in a government database.
At the time of the leaks, Michael Avenatti was in the middle of a legal battle with Cohen over a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels in the days leading up to the 2016 presidential election.
If convicted, Fry faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. His next court appearance is scheduled for March 13.
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