DOJ seeks harsher penalty for Ashley Biden diary thief after missed hearings

The Department of Justice asked a judge on Tuesday to sentence the woman who stole Ashley Biden’s diary to four to 10 months in prison, a tougher penalty than the six months of home confinement that the government had initially sought.

Prosecutors for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said in a letter to a judge that Aimee Harris had “abused the administration of justice” by repeatedly providing inadequate excuses to the court that have caused her sentencing hearing to be rescheduled 12 times. They said the behavior warranted a harsher penalty.

Harris’s hearing has most recently been rescheduled for next week, and Judge Laura Swain has grown stricter with the defendant, warning last week that she could authorize a warrant for Harris’s arrest should she fail to appear. Harris is awaiting the sentence for her efforts to sell the diary of the president’s daughter ahead of the 2020 election.

In their letter to Swain, prosecutors detailed Harris’s string of scheduling complications that have led to her sentencing hearing, originally scheduled for December 2022, being pushed back now more than 16 months.

In one instance, Harris could not attend a hearing because she was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. One day before another hearing, she informed the court that she was “sick, has no childcare and cannot appear tomorrow.” In another instance, Harris claimed this year that she had no identification documents that she could use to travel from Florida to New York, prompting the court to demand she obtain identification or do whatever else was necessary to arrange her travel.

“The defendant has repeatedly and consistently engaged in tactics to improperly delay this proceeding, including by misleading the Court with false information to justify belated and unmerited requests for adjournments,” prosecutors wrote.

Harris pleaded guilty in August 2022 to one count of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property.

Court documents indicate that Harris discovered the property, belonging to Ashley Biden, then-candidate Joe Biden’s daughter, at a home in Delray Beach, Florida, in 2020. Ashley Biden’s friend owned the home and had allowed the first daughter to leave some of her items there. When Harris began staying at the home temporarily and came upon the items, she and her co-defendant, Robert Kurlander, began conspiring on how they could make money off the items.

Ashley Biden stored in the Delray Beach home her “handwritten journal containing highly personal entries … tax records, a digital camera, a digital storage card containing private family photographs, a cellphone, books, clothing, and luggage,” prosecutors said in a court filing.

About two months before the 2020 presidential election, Harris and Kurlander attempted to sell Ashley Biden’s diary and other items to then-President Donald Trump’s campaign because they believed the campaign could use the items to damage Trump’s political opponent. However, the Trump campaign rejected their offer and advised them to go to the FBI, prosecutors said.

Harris and Kurlander then turned to Project Veritas, a right-leaning organization known for its controversial methods of gathering news through undercover recordings.

The pair traveled from Florida to New York to sell some of Ashley Biden’s possessions to Project Veritas, eventually receiving $40,000 from the organization for the diary and other items.

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Though Project Veritas decided against publishing the diary and eventually gave it to the police, its former employees remain under investigation for their role in obtaining it. They have been wrapped up in a yearslong court battle with the DOJ over claims the government violated their First Amendment rights as journalists by seizing their phones and computers as part of its inquiry.

Harris, for her part, is now due to appear at a sentencing hearing on Tuesday in New York. Kurlander’s hearing is scheduled for April 12.

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