Mark Tolson, 60, pleaded guilty in September to a single misdemeanor charge of computer fraud and abuse after he admitted to illegally hacking right-wing lobbyist Jack Burkman’s email account.
At the time, Burkman was reportedly trying to obtain information to be used in sexual misconduct allegations against Mueller, who was conducting an investigation into President Donald Trump over claims he “colluded” with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
Tolson reportedly told a federal judge that he accessed the emails without permission in October 2018, after Burkman announced he would be holding a press conference in which he promised to produce an alleged victim of harassment by Mueller.
However, the press conference ultimately did not take place.
Tolson told the court that he had accessed the email in an attempt to prove that Burkman had paid women to fabricate allegations against Mueller.
According to Politico, Tolson’s wife, Sarah Gilbert Fox, had the password to Burkman’s email account after doing work for the lobbyist from October 2017 to summer 2018, and provided the password to her husband.
The couple got into Burkman’s email and took several screenshots of messages as well as the login information to the account, which they then offered to an unnamed journalist who declined to accept it, The Washington Post reports.
After offering the information to the journalist, Tolson also took the information he had obtained to the FBI.
Fox was not charged for her part in the attempt, and U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema told Tolson at his sentencing in Alexandria, Virginia, that he was “lucky” his wife hadn’t been indicted.
Brinkema noted that Tolson should have known better than to just “rummage through other people’s accounts.”
Defense attorney Ed MacMahon said that before this incident, Tolson had been a “model employee” who was “trying to discredit a press conference that was about to start, at which salacious allegations were going to be made about Mueller.”
Judge Brinkema also commended the unknown journalist who decided not to act on the information and password offered to them by Tolson and his wife, adding that Tolson might have been facing a more serious charge if the emails had been published.
The former FBI analyst was also ordered to pay a $500 fine and serve 50 hours of community service and will be on probation for a year, Politico reports.
His seven-day sentence will be served after the Christmas holidays.
Following the court’s decision, Burkman took to Twitter where he expressed his outrage over the ruling and branded the judicial system a “disgrace.”
“What a disgrace our judicial system is. Mark Tolson gets 7 days. Can you imagine the jail time he would have gotten if I were a liberal? The good news is that we will be suing him in federal court for extensive damages,” he wrote.
Leonie Milhomme Brinkema (born June 26, 1944) is a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
She was born as Leonie Milhomme in Teaneck, New Jersey. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Douglass College in 1966 and undertook graduate studies in philosophy at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (1966) and New York University (1967–1969). She earned her Master of Library and Information Science degree at Rutgers University in 1970 and her Juris Doctor at Cornell Law School in 1976.
She worked in the United States Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section 1976–1977, and then the United States Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Virginia, Criminal Division 1977–1983. During 1983–1984, she returned to the Criminal Division and worked as a solo practitioner from 1984–1985.
Federal judicial career
Brinkema was a United States Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of Virginia from 1985 to 1993.
On August 6, 1993, President Bill Clinton nominated Brinkema to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia vacated by Albert Vickers Bryan Jr.. She was confirmed by the United States Senate on October 18, 1993, and received her commission on October 20, 1993. She took up her post on October 23, 1993.
Brinkema presided over RTC v. Lerma et al. (1995), a case that involved the reproduction of materials owned by the Church of Scientology. Brinkema found for the defendants in most of the claims, and awarded minimum damages of $2,500 for copyright infringement, citing the “increasingly vitriolic rhetoric” of Religious Technology Center (RTC)’s legal filings.
On October 28, 2003, she sentenced al-Qaeda operative Iyman Faris to twenty years imprisonment for providing material support to the group.
Brinkema presided over the case of 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. When she asked about the videotapes showing the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, the government denied their existence. As she sentenced Moussaoui to life in a supermax prison, she told him: “You came here to be a martyr and to die in a great big bang of glory, but to paraphrase the poet T. S. Eliot, instead, you will die with a whimper. The rest of your life you will spend in prison.” Mr. Moussaoui began to respond, but Judge Brinkema continued. “You will never again get a chance to speak,” she said, “and that is an appropriate and fair ending.”
On October 20,2006 Brinkema sentenced infamous child predator Steven M. Bennof to 60 months in prison.
On April 2, 2009, Brinkema weighed in on the question of whether terrorist detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp could be prosecuted in the civilian justice system.
In 2011, she presided over the fraud trial of Lee Farkas, CEO of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker. During his sentencing hearing on June 30, 2011, she said that she did not observe any genuine remorse, and sentenced the 58-year-old Farkas to 30 years in federal prison. She ordered Farkas and six others to pay a total of about $US3.5 billion in restitution.
On January 28, 2017, she was the second to order a stay of an executive order by President Donald Trump, which restricted immigration into the United States and prevented the return of green-card holders and others. Although the order issued was a temporary restraining order, it blocked the removal of any green-card holders being detained at Dulles International Airport for seven days. Brinkema’s action also ordered that lawyers have access to those held there because of the president’s ban.
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