« | »

O’Keefe Nabbed In ‘Phone Tamper’ Plot

From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

James O’Keefe, left, and Stan Dai walk out of the St. Bernard Parish jail in Chalmette, La., Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010.

ACORN ‘gotcha’ man arrested in attempt to tamper with Mary Landrieu’s office phones

By David Hammer, The Times-Picayune
January 26, 2010

Alleging a plot to tamper with phones in Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office in the Hale Boggs Federal Building in downtown New Orleans, the FBI arrested four people Monday, including James O’Keefe, 25, a conservative filmmaker whose undercover videos at ACORN field offices severely damaged the advocacy group’s credibility.

Also arrested were Joseph Basel, Stan Dai and Robert Flanagan, all 24. Flanagan is the son of William Flanagan, who is the acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana. All four men were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.

An official close to the investigation said one of the four was arrested with a listening device in a car blocks from the senator’s offices. He spoke on condition of anonymity because that information was not included in official arresting documents.

According to the FBI affidavit, Flanagan and Basel entered the federal building at 500 Poydras Street on Monday about 11 a.m., dressed as telephone company employees, wearing jeans, fluorescent green vests, tool belts and hard hats. When they arrived at Landrieu’s 10th-floor office, O’Keefe was already in the office and had told a staffer he was waiting for someone to arrive.

When Flanagan and Basel entered the office, they told the staffer they were there to fix phone problems. At that time, the staffer, referred to only as Witness 1 in the affidavit, observed O’Keefe positioning his cell phone in his hand to videotape the operation. O’Keefe later admitted to agents that he recorded the event.

After being asked, the staffer gave Basel access to the main phone at the reception desk. The staffer told investigators that Basel manipulated the handset. He also tried to call the main office phone using his cell phone, and said the main line wasn’t working. Flanagan did the same.

They then told the staffer they needed to perform repair work on the main phone system and asked where the telephone closet was located. The staffer showed the men to the main General Services Administration office on the 10th floor, and Flanagan and Basel went in. There, a GSA employee asked for the men’s credentials. They said they left them in their vehicle.

The U.S. Marshal’s Service apprehended all four men shortly thereafter

ACORN spokesman Kevin Whelan said the arrest calls O’Keefe’s credibility into question, and used the opportunity to point out that he "edited (ACORN videos) to make things look as bad as possible." He said, for instance, that O’Keefe actually wore a normal dress shirt when he was in the ACORN offices, but spliced in shots of him dressed as a pimp in the final videos…

The four men appeared in federal magistrate court Tuesday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Louis Moore wearing red inmate jumpsuits from St. Bernard Parish Prison. Moore is allowing the men to be released on $10,000 bond each.

The men have to go to pretrial services, a federal agency, tomorrow morning. Moore allowed three of the men to stay together Tuesday night, but ordered them to not talk about the case.

Eddie Castaing is the lawyer representing O’Keefe, Basel and Dai, all of whom are from out of town. He said Tuesday that he was not prepared to comment on the case and would know more Wednesday. He also said he gave one of his clients $60 to take a taxicab from St. Bernard Parish Prison back to wherever they are staying.

According to the Phillips Foundation’s Web site, Dai was the editor-in-chief of the GW Patriot, an alternative conservative student newspaper, when he attended The George Washington University in 2006. According to information Dai posted in September 2007 on the university’s online alumni directory, he lived in Naperville, Ill., helped run a "Defense Deparment [sic] regional defense counterterrorism/irregular warfare program" and then became assistant director of the Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence at Trinity Washington University, which prepares undergraduates for careers in intelligence.

On Tuesday at 4:40 p.m., O’Keefe, Dai and Basel were released from the jail and were waiting for a cab. Asked to comment, O’Keefe said only, "Veritas," which is Latin for "truth." O’Keefe’s biography on the blog site www.BigGovernment.com says he works at VeritasVisuals.com, although that site does not appear to be functioning.

O’Keefe spent most of the time in the men’s room off the jail’s lobby, then hustled to the cab when it arrived. As he ran into the back seat, he called out, "The truth shall set me free."

Robert Flanagan’s attorney, J. Garrison Jordan, said he believes his client works for the Pelican Institute. Asked the motivation for the alleged wiretap plot, he said: "I think it was poor judgment. I don’t think there was any intent or motive to commit a crime."

This incident has already gotten a lot more coverage from our media watchdogs than Mr. O’Keefe’s investigation into ACORN ever did.

It will be interesting to hear how it all plays out.

You can read the FBI affidavit (a pdf file) here.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Tuesday, January 26th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

11 Responses to “O’Keefe Nabbed In ‘Phone Tamper’ Plot”

  1. GetBackJack

    Never believe anything until it’s been officially denied

  2. canary

    He said, for instance, that O’Keefe actually wore a normal dress shirt when he was in the ACORN offices, but spliced in shots of him dressed as a pimp in the final videos…

    O’Keefe himself said he did not where the fur coat the first visits, but did eventually did start to wear it into Acorn offices. The videos taped of the two walking; O’keefe wearing the fur coats outdoors obviously were not in an office. duh. Of course the news only showed the best parts.

    Have they arrested the former prostitute that bragged she set up her husband to murder him and get away with it, by telling everyone he beat her. Have the arrested the immigrant in California office that traffics young girls from his foreign country. Ya know the one with the Spanish accent and connections with his people.

    I sure hope reasons of interest in Mary come out.

  3. White_Polluter

    Hmmmm. Not……Good.

    It would be wonderful if there were something for which they were digging in Landrieu’s office, but I fear there is not. I don’t think we can claim double standard with the press, because that is just a fact. Look, I didn’t ask to be born with this face either, but I was. The press is going to play this way more than the original ACORN problems. I just hope it doesn’t shoot the whole credibility issue of the ACORN investigation to pot.

  4. tranquil.night

    People should just get hands-off on this one. Get the lad a good lawyer and let the truth vindicate if he is in fact telling it, but they’re going to have to do better than “we wanted to show how easy it would be..” The affadavit is pretty bad.

    The one thing I’ll say in defense is that – as its reported – it was so ridiculously contrived that I’m having trouble believing it. Need to hear the other side.

  5. platypus

    tranquil.night says the affidavit is pretty bad. I agree. It’s a pretty bad example of a coherent story and it’s equally bad in terms of listing any evidence that incriminates.

    This case goes away quickly, I predict, because its purpose has already been fulfilled. That purpose is to give ACORN a ledge to stage a rehabilitation from the bad press that cost them their funding.

    Wait for the civil suit for false arrest.

  6. phinehas

    “All four men were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.”

    No mention of any wiretapping devices in the affidavit so don’t see how they are going to get them for intent. Looks to me that they just wanted to videotape poor security. Perhaps trying to embarrass Landrieu or somebody in relation to legislation, such as what she co-sponsored in 2007. Just a speculation but based on the info so far it doesn’t appear as if these guys were going to do anything with the phones…nothing physically on them to do anything.

  7. The way this guy operates is with a camera.

    Intent will show it for what it is.

    I sell wireless video equipment, and would put money on the alleged nearby listener not only having “listening equipment”, but also having a video record of the shenanigans.

    What he didn’t consider however, is the seriousness of breaching the security of a US Senator’s office, which carries weight far heavier than talking to a bunch of misguided O-Bots at a community organizing office. Motive may not set him free, but may mitigate his resulting punishment.

    $10 says out of commission for a year tops.

  8. proreason

    Well if our trustworthy government officials say its so, case closed right?

    Eric Holder……he never rests while protecting our country.

  9. U NO HOO

    They wanted to call Beck’s red phone.

  10. phinehas

    “The way this guy operates is with a camera.”

    Exactly, hence him pointing his cell phone video camera at the conversation.

    “Intent will show it for what it is.”

    Which from the info so far, suggests there is no intent of action that is criminal, other than the false pretense stuff, which is a rather gray area depending on context.

    “I sell wireless video equipment, and would put money on the alleged nearby listener not only having “listening equipment”, but also having a video record of the shenanigans.”

    Which would still not be wiretapping or interference/destruction of government telephone equipment. If it were, then reporters would be arrested every time they enter a government building with a camera or audio recorder.

    “What he didn’t consider however, is the seriousness of breaching the security of a US Senator’s office, which carries weight far heavier than talking to a bunch of misguided O-Bots at a community organizing office.”

    Sure, charge them with tresspassing but as an American citizen, I want to see people fired due to gross negligence in allowing such a “serious” breaching of security at a U.S. Senator’s office.

    “$10 says out of commission for a year tops.”

    Perhaps, I don’t think there will be any jail time, even if convicted of a felony. I don’t think the false pretense charge will hold if the intent to commit a crime is not proven. That being said, it didn’t take long for a bus to start running over him. http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_14274989

  11. xdannyh

    One of the goals of a tyrannical government is to make everything illegal, then pick and choose who to prosecute.
    ……intent to commit a felony…………..indeed!


« Front Page | To Top
« | »