Two Florida residents pleaded guilty in federal court on Thursday to a scheme to sell a diary and other items stolen from Ashley Biden, the president's daughter, to Project Veritas.
Aimee Harris of Palm Beach, Fla., and Robert Kurlander of Jupiter, Fla., each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams’s office said.
In the DOJ's announcement, federal authorities did not identify Ashley Biden, saying only that the property the pair were peddling belonged to "an immediate family member of a candidate for national political office."
According to prosecutors, in June 2020 Ashley Biden was storing the items, including a "handwritten journal containing highly personal entries, tax records, a digital storage card containing private family photographs, and a cellphone, among other things," in a private home in Delray Beach, Fla., where Harris was temporarily residing.
Harris contacted Kurlander to ask for his help in selling the items. Kurlander replied in a text message, saying he would help Harris "make a S*** TON of money" from the material.
In September 2020, they attended a fundraiser for then-President Donald Trump (identified as "Candidate-2") with the intent of selling the diary and other items to the Trump campaign.
A representative for the Trump campaign told Kurlander it was not interested in purchasing the property, and advised them to provide the items to the FBI.
"[Candidate-2] campaign can't use it," Kurlander texted Harris, according to the complaint. "They want it to go to the FBI. There is NO WAY [Candidate-2] can use this. It has to be done a different way."
Kurlander then contacted Project Veritas, a New York-based conservative activist group known for hidden-camera sting operations targeting media organizations and Democratic politicians. The group asked that Harris and Kurlander use an encrypted application to send photographs of the items.
After receiving the images, Project Veritas "offered to pay for airfare, hotel, and car service" for Harris and Kurlander to transport the property from Florida to its offices in New York City.
Harris and Kurlander traveled to New York and ultimately sold the stolen items to Project Veritas for $40,000. Project Veritas has denied any wrongdoing, saying it received the diary from “tipsters” who said it had been abandoned in a room — adding that it turned over the journal to law enforcement.
"Harris and Kurlander sought to profit from their theft of another person’s personal property," Williams said in a statement, "and they now stand convicted of a federal felony as a result.”
As they entered their guilty pleas in court, both defendants apologized.
“I know what I did was wrong and awful," Kurlander said in court, according to the New York Times. “And I apologize.”
“I sincerely apologize for any actions and know what I did was illegal,” Harris said.
According to federal sentencing guidelines, conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Under the terms of their plea agreements, Harris and Kurlander each agreed to forfeit $20,000, and Kurlander promised to cooperate with the government.