Last January the Manhattan DA’s Office indicted 106 people including 72 NYPD cops, 8 firefighters and 5 Corrections Officers for bilking Social Security out of $400 million in phony disability claims. The scheme was masterminded by a former senior Nassau County ADA who took kickbacks of $28,000 a head for every successful claim. The applicants were coached on how to fake PTSD symptoms to show they were incapable of even leaving the house, let alone holding down a job. Unfortunately, the coaches forgot to tell their Disability-collecting clients not to go out and get jobs as helicopter pilots, martial arts instructors and landscapers and not to post photos of themselves water ski-ing, motorcycling and catching gigantic fish.
DA Vandal did some fishing of his own, getting what amounted to a general search warrant from a compliant Manhattan judge for unrestricted rummaging into 381 Facebook accounts. In vain, Facebook protested the unconstitutionality of these unparticularized warrants, as well as the gag order. Facebook’s appeal to AD1 has just been unsealed (see below). We await the decision, as the court reporters say, with baited breath.
Considering how eyeglazingly boring Facebook communications are if you don’t know the parties, we wondered who would actually read everything demanded by the warrants, which included every share, note, timeline posting to and from every target account, “friend” listing (including deleted or removed friends), networks, past and future event listings, videos, photos, lists of all other users registered in any group, private messages and the date, time and content of all chats to and from 381 people for the entire span of their Facebook accounts. We obtained the secret diary of ADA Winterbottom, excerpted here:
Day 1: Summoned to Bureau Chief’s office and informed that The Leader has entrusted me with top secret cyber investigation. About time, after 34 years of filing trial exhibits. Will be issued larger cubicle and brand new photo of The Leader. Mother will be so pleased!
Day 2: Somewhat daunted at being told to prepare 381 search warrant applications in half an hour. Fortunately discovered I could make them identical except for names of the targets. Instructed that saying “ongoing investigation” is perfectly adequate substitute for particularity. The Leader makes even the most difficult task seem easy!
Day 3: As fully anticipated, no problem getting warrants signed. Judge understands we can’t know what we want until we see what’s there. Facebook argues it’s just like seizing everything in someone’s home. And their point is??
Day 12: Assigned to read entire file of 381 Facebook accounts. Advised that messages utilize code words to disguise criminal activity.
Day 15: Have realized that reading every chat, share, note, timeline posting to and from every target account, friend listing including deleted or removed friends, networks, past and future event listings, videos, photos, lists of all other users registered in any group, private messages and the date, time and content of all chats. . . is a lot of work.
Day 18: Texting code apparently consists of writing first letters of words, leaving receiver to guess what words are. Remember something like this in “Anna Karenina.”
Day 20: How much more can I take of thousands of pages of messages saying things like U R 2G2BT 88 4EAE? Not to mention half a million photos of the same baby. Working 12-hour days, 7 days a week, haven’t even finished Account #1, with 380 more to go. IMHO TTLY TMI!
Day 30: Have friended all target users. If you can’t beat them, join them (IYCBTJT).
Day 30: Texted The Leader, “OMG I’ve got PTSD.” LOL all the way to the bank to collect SSSS. BCNU.