IRS Agent Charged In Leak Of Michael Cohen Transactions To Michael Avenatti

Posted on Friday, 22nd February 2019 @ 03:12 PM by Text Size A | A | A

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An Internal Revenue Service agent was charged on Thursday with unlawfully leaking former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s overseas financial tractions to attorney Michael Avenatti.

John C. Fry, an analyst in the San Francisco IRS office who had worked for the agency since 2008, was charged with disclosing Cohen’s Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) – nine months after we reported that it wouldn’t be difficult to track down the leaker due to a digital trail left behind from accessing the system.

Fry appeared in court Thursday where he did not enter a plea. He was released on $50,000 bond, and has a hearing scheduled for March 13. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted. According to CNN, “In recent weeks, Fry’s hearing date was pushed back several times as federal prosecutors were engaged with Fry’s attorney on plea negotiations, according to a person familiar with the talks. As of Thursday, Fry declined to plead to felony charges in exchange for probation.”

Banks are required to file suspicious activity reports (SARs) for dubious financial transactions. Fry told The New Yorker‘s Ronan Farrow in May of 2018 that some of Cohen’s SARs were missing.

Bloomberg suggested in May of last year that the leaker was a low level IRS employee because they were apparently unaware of several legitimate reasons why these reports wouldn’t appear in the database. For example, they could’ve been restricted because they had become part of an investigation.

“Under longstanding procedures, FinCEN will limit access to certain SARs when requested by law enforcement authorities in connection with an ongoing investigation,” Hudak said. –Bloomberg

This was in fact the case, according to the criminal complaint, which notes that two SARs “were not available for viewing by registered users in the FinCEN system” because “they were related to a sensitive open investigation.”

After Fry accessed the reports on May 4, 2018, he reportedly called Avenatti twice, after which Avenatti “used his public Twitter account to circulate a dossier releasing confidential banking information related to Cohen and his company, Essential Consultants,” according to the complaint. Fry also shared information with reporters from the Washington Post and The New Yorker.

Based on the information Fry provided, Avenatti released a seven-page dossier containing various claims of financial malfeasance by Cohen. Embarrassingly, however, Avenatti included SARs from two incorrect Michael Cohens thanks to Fry’s information.

two of the allegedly “fraudulent” payments were made to men named Michael Cohen who have no affiliation with Trump.

Avenatti’s report includes a section listing “possible fraudulent and illegal financial transactions” involving Trump’s lawyer. One of the payments is a $4,250 wire transfer from a Malaysian company, Actuarial Partners, to a bank in Toronto.

The other is a $980 transfer from a Kenyan bank to Bank Hapoalim — the largest bank in Israel. –Daily Caller

In an email sent by one of the misidentified Michael Cohens to the Daily Caller, Avenetti is excoriated for not doing more research before releasing information.

You are surely aware of the fact that this is an extremely common name and would request that you take care before involving innocent parries [sic] in this sordid affair,” wrote Cohen, who told Avenatti he is an international consultant who was paid by Actuarial Partners for work on a project in Tanzania.

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for a series of crimes, including tax evasion, financial fraud and campaign finance violations stemming from a scheme to pay off women who claimed to have had decade-old affairs with Donald Trump. He is scheduled to report to prison in May.

Read the criminal complaint against Fry below:

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