Leaked FBI Chat Logs Confirm Agents Spied On Proud Boys Defendant's Communications With Attorney

Chris Menahan
InformationLiberation
Apr. 03, 2023

Leaked chat logs from FBI Special Agent Nicole Miller obtained by the New York Times confirm the FBI spied on communications between a Proud Boy defendant and his lawyer, worked on a "never-filed conspiracy indictment" targeting Nick Fuentes and Baked Alaska, laughed at a defendant's personal misfortunes and bragged about "dismantling things" at the FBI's Washington Field Office.

From New York Times, "Inside the F.B.I.'s Jan. 6 Investigation of the Proud Boys":
Some of the Lync [online chat service] messages emerged recently when Agent Miller took the stand at the trial of Mr. Pezzola and his co-defendants Enrique Tarrio, Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs and Zachary Rehl which is now unfolding in Federal District Court in Washington. On cross-examination, the men's lawyers sought to use the log to suggest that other agents who chatted with Agent Miller had committed offenses like destroying evidence or scrutinizing emails between one of the defendants and his lawyer in a violation of the attorney-client privilege.

A lawyer for Mr. Pezzola described the messages as evidence of a "massive trail of F.B.I. corruption," but Judge Timothy J. Kelly, who is presiding at the trial, blasted that assertion, saying it was "unfounded speculation that has no place in a courtroom."

While the log obtained by The Times is missing several entries, it offers the most extensive portrait yet of the F.B.I.'s internal communications as agents investigated the sprawling Proud Boys case.
As I noted previously, the FBI claimed portions of the logs must be "classified" to keep them from being seen by the jury.

The Times' report makes no mention of the texts which revealed Agent Miller said she was ordered by her boss to "destroy" "338 items of evidence."



The Times report also failed to mention the text showing Miller was asked by another agent to "edit out that I was present" during a meeting with a Confidential Human Source Informant.

Nonetheless, portions of the Times' report were still insightful:
In a separate matter, [Miller] was also working on a never-filed conspiracy indictment against the white nationalist Nick Fuentes and one of his allies, the far-right troll Anthime Gionet, better known by his nickname Baked Alaska.

Her fellow agents were impressed. "Wow," one of her colleagues in the Washington field office wrote, "you've been in WFO [the Washington Field Office] for what, a year? and you are already dismantling things."
What she's "dismantling" is not "systems of oppression" but what Biden called "English jurisprudential culture, a white man's culture" -- the idea that folks are innocent until proven guilty and the government mustn't target political enemies and "find a crime" to prosecute them with -- or in this case, the obligation of the government to share exculpatory evidence with defense counsel and not spy on privileged attorney-client communications.
After prosecutors obtained a conspiracy indictment against the Proud Boys leaders, Agent Miller pressed on with the case.

In the spring of 2021, she and her team began examining Proud Boys chapters in St. Louis and the Hudson Valley in New York. Around the same time, working with group chats obtained through their investigation, the team also identified a Proud Boy in Pennsylvania, John C. Stewart, who later pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and cooperated with the government's case.

Along the way, the messages show, agents kept in touch with their informants in the group. In April, one informant known as "Omlette" told his handlers that the Proud Boys would likely take part in an upcoming "White Lives Matter" rally. In June, another informant, Kenneth Lizardo from Massachusetts, provided information for a search warrant. The messages mention other informants in Cleveland and Salt Lake City.


Throughout that year, Agent Miller and her team were also trying to recruit new cooperators. One message suggests that Mr. Pezzola met with prosecutors in April 2021 for a formal interview known as a proffer but did not end up cooperating with the government.

Nicholas Ochs, who ran the Proud Boys' chapter in Hawaii and was charged with conspiracy one month after the Capitol attack, also met with prosecutors for a proffer interview in the fall of 2021. But the messages show the meeting did not go well either.

"Ochs didn't offer us anything," Nicholas Hanak, another agent on the case, wrote to Agent Miller.

"Yea," Agent Hanak concluded, "no deal for him."
The FBI laughed at their targets' personal life misfortunes and spied on their attorney-client communications:
In October, in a punchy exchange, one of Agent Miller's colleagues said she had been listening to Mr. Rehl fighting with his wife presumably on a monitored jailhouse line. Agent Miller wondered if the jailed Proud Boy had discovered his wife was cheating on him, prompting the colleague to write, "hahaha i'll bring beer."

In the same conversation, the other agent said she had read a series of emails between Mr. Rehl and his lawyer at the time, Jonathon Moseley. The messages indicated that Mr. Rehl was planning to fight his charges at trial a fact that the other agent asked Agent Miller not to reveal to the prosecutors on the case, lest they "freak out."

Mr. Rehl's current lawyer, Carmen Hernandez, has accused the F.B.I. of violating her client's rights by illegally looking at privileged communications with his former lawyer. Prosecutors say Mr. Rehl had used a jailhouse email system that clearly stated that all of its messages were monitored just like the phone lines a measure, they say, that amounted to a waiver of attorney-client privilege.
The FBI apparently got a treasure trove of evidence to compile their "sedition" case from "prolific" former FBI informant Enrique Tarrio's cellphone:
In February 2022, Agent Miller finally caught a break in her investigation of one of her top targets: Enrique Tarrio, the former leader of the Proud Boys. At the beginning of the month, she told a colleague that bureau technicians had extracted a Telegram group chat called the "Ministry of Self-Defense" from Mr. Tarrio's cellphone. Participants in the chat played a central role in the run-up to the Capitol attack and on the ground on Jan. 6.

"It's really good," Agent Miller wrote of the salvaged chat, adding, "Enrique didn't delete anything."

Something else was on the phone, she said: a "plan" that Mr. Tarrio and one of his girlfriends had "worked on." That appeared to be a reference to a document called "1776 Returns," which contained a detailed plan to surveil and storm government buildings around the Capitol on Jan. 6.

After calling Mr. Tarrio "an idiot" for leaving such material on his phone, Agent Miller's colleague asked if the newly discovered information would "get us over the hurdle of the conspiracy charge?"

Agent Miller said they could press forward with a conspiracy case.

"We DEF can now," she wrote.


One month later, Mr. Tarrio was arrested on an indictment charging him with conspiracy.

A Final Break

There was one more big break.

Two days after Mr. Tarrio was charged, one of Agent Miller's colleagues wrote to say that a lawyer for Jeremy Bertino, a Proud Boy from North Carolina, had reached out, suggesting that his client was interested in talking to investigators. The F.B.I. had executed a search warrant at Mr. Bertino's home the day before Mr. Tarrio's arrest and discovered three AR-15-style rifles and a shotgun hidden behind a wall in the basement.

Agent Miller and her team eventually determined that some of the weapons were unlicensed and could be subject to a criminal charge. The messages also show that agents found a video of Mr. Tarrio chatting with Mr. Bertino while Mr. Bertino was at a shooting range with his wife.

"We cant make this stuff up!!" Agent Miller wrote.

Jeremy Bertino pictured center during a Proud Boys podcast with a ballcap reading, "FBI."
Over the next several weeks, Mr. Bertino was interviewed at least three times by prosecutors working on the case; and in October 2022, he formally pleaded guilty not only to a gun charge, but also to seditious conspiracy.

In February, a few weeks before Agent Miller herself testified at the Proud Boys trial, Mr. Bertino took the stand as the government's star witness.
The most interesting texts are the ones the Times didn't report on.

[Header image by Anthony Crider, CC BY 2.0]

Follow InformationLiberation on Twitter, Facebook, Gab, Minds and Telegram.













All original InformationLiberation articles CC 4.0



About - Privacy Policy