August 14, 2022

Ken Kurson and Jared Kushner attend The New York Observer celebrates Robert Kurson’s new book PIRATE HUNTERS at The Rusty Knot on June 15, 2015 in New York City.

J. Grassi | Patrick McMullan | Getty Images

The Manhattan District Attorney accused Ken Kurson, a friend and former employee of Jared Kushner, of cyberstalking his ex-wife on Wednesday, months after receiving a pardon from then-President Donald Trump for alleged cybercrime against others.

Kurson, 52, has been charged with wiretapping and criminal trespassing for allegedly illegally accessing his then-wife’s communications in 2015 and 2016 while serving as editor-in-chief of the Observer Media Group, which was owned by Kushner at the time.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office said Kurson used spyware to obtain passwords and log into his wife’s Gmail and Facebook accounts.

Prosecutors say he also illegally acquired private Facebook messages and shared them anonymously.

Vance’s office is also continuing a criminal investigation into Trump’s company, the Trump Organization. Vance hired the company and its CFO Allen Weisselberg earlier this summer with a year-long plan to avoid taxes on executive pay. The company and CFO pleaded not guilty.

Kurson, who lives in New Jersey, was indicted in a Manhattan court Wednesday afternoon and released at his own discretion. His lawyer Marc Mukasey did not respond to requests for comment.

The federal prosecutor hit Kurson last year with similar charges related to alleged cyberstalking of three people. His first arrest came two years after removing his name from scrutiny for an appointment by the Trump administration to the board of directors of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The 2020 criminal complaint footnote states that in addition to the three victims in this case, “FBI special agents have also received evidence showing that Kurson experienced a similar pattern of harassment in relation to his divorce proceedings against others between around September 2015 People committed “. and December 2015. “

This behavior, which was not accused at the time, allegedly included “gaining access to email and social media accounts without their knowledge or authorization; installing software on a person’s computer to control keystrokes and use that person’s website without him or her Knowledge or their authorization to monitor “.

Before this federal case could be brought to justice, Trump pardoned Kurson on his way out of the White House in January. Kushner is Trump’s son-in-law and served as a senior advisor in the White House.

After the pardon

Presidential pardons do not apply to state or local charges.

“We will not accept pardons from the president as free tickets for the well-connected people in New York,” Vance said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Mr. Kurson launched a campaign against cybercrime, manipulation and abuse from his place at the New York Observer, and now New Yorkers will hold him accountable,” Vance said. The Observer is the newspaper that Kurson published for Kushner.

Vance had previously been thwarted in his efforts to prosecute Trump’s 2016 campaign leader Paul Manafort for financial crimes. A state judge ruled the case was excluded by dual protection because Manafort had previously been prosecuted by federal authorities for conduct that overlapped with what Vance alleged in a state criminal case.

But Vance’s allegations against Kurson differ from the details of the allegations made by federal prosecutors last year. Vance’s case could also avoid the double compromise decision as Kurson’s criminal case never went to court.

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Last year, Brooklyn federal prosecutors charged Kurson with pursuing and harassing three people.

The U.S. Attorney General for the eastern borough of New York focused on actions including false complaints filed with two of the victims’ employers and a false negative review on one of the victims posted on Yelp.

In 2018, the New York Times found that the FBI was investigating allegations that Kurson had molested a doctor at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. The doctor was a longtime friend of Kurson and his then-wife, who were divorced at the time.

Kurson told the Times earlier that year the doctor was “a very good friend” and said, “I wish her all the best.”

“Of course, emotions rise when couples divorce. Fortunately, everything worked out very well for my ex-wife and children, and I have kept this chapter closed for a long time for the past three years, “Kurson told the Times.

When Kurson was prosecuted in 2020 over alleged harassment of the doctor and the other two people, his attorney Mukasey told CNBC, “Ken Kurson is an honorable man, a loving father, and a brilliant federal law enforcement writer.”
“He’ll get over it,” Mukasey said at the time.

The Justice Department denied a request from CNBC in July for Kurson’s ex-wife’s letter demanding that the federal criminal case against him be terminated.

The White House quoted this letter at the time Trump pardoned Kurson.

In that letter, Kurson’s ex-wife allegedly wrote that “she never wanted this investigation or arrest and repeatedly asked the FBI to hire her … I hired a lawyer to protect me from being forced to go through another round of interrogation. My disgust “with this arrest and the articles that followed is bottomless,” claimed the Trump White House in its pardon.

“This investigation only began because Mr. Kurson was nominated for a role within the Trump administration,” Kurson’s ex-wife reportedly wrote, according to the Trump White House.

History of the allegations

In March 2018, author Deborah Copaken wrote an article on Kurson for The Atlantic entitled How to Lose Your Job from Sexual Harassment in 33 Easy Steps.

Copaken wrote that Kurson commented on staring at her breasts during an interview with the Observer.

Copaken also wrote that after Kurson started writing articles for the newspaper, he sent an email saying, “How come you never asked me out on a date?”

The New York Times reported later in 2018 that Copaken was contacted by someone who told her about Kurson’s alleged harassment of Mount Sinai Hospital staff.

Copaken told the Times that FBI agents interviewed her in June 2018 as part of a background investigation into Kurson’s would-be nomination to the National Endowment for the Humanities Board.

When asked about Kurson’s new criminal case, Copaken told CNBC on Wednesday, “I’m learning from these new allegations so I only know the details from the early news reports, but when? As soon as I read the news, I felt a sense of relief that slumped my shoulders. “

“Maybe in the end justice will prevail,” said Copaken. “Maybe the president’s pardons will be surrounded by guard rails in the future. And maybe now I can finally remove this nice man who is a security expert from my speed dial.”

While serving as editor of the Observer, Kurson advised then-presidential candidate Trump in a speech he gave to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in 2016. Later that year, he sat in the Trump family box at the Republican National Convention.

Kurson recently launched the Modern Consensus website for cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. He was only on the board of directors of the cryptocurrency company Ripple last year.

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