This is the 3rd post in my private investigator series discussing what private investigators can and cannot do legally when searching for assets.  My January 6th post mentions that on behalf of clients, former attorney Mary Nolan and her private investigator conspired to place illegal wiretaps in cars.  Their clients were reportedly never accused of committing the wiretapping crimes.  The instant post discusses clients and/or lawyers who are accused of conspiring to commit crimes with the private investigators they use.

In USA v. Moser, private investigators Nathan Moser and Peter Siragusa were indicted along with their client Carlo Pacileo, the alleged director of security at ViSalus Inc.   The Jauary 7, 2015 indictment in their case alleges Mr. Pacileo, Mr. Moser and Mr. Siragusa conspired with computer hackers to illegally gather e-mails and Skype information.  They allegedly sought this information because it might have helped Mr. Pacileo’s employer ViSalus Inc., in a civil lawsuit it had filed.

The 3rd paragraph of the New York Times article “Private Eye Is Said to Face Prosecution in a Hacking” refers to the January 7th indictment in the Moser case.  The New York Times article also discussed the situation of lawyers engaging private investigators.  The article says there was speculation that lawyers sometimes hire private investigators to hack into e-mail accounts to learn about witnesses or evidence.  The article essentially says that in order to have “plausible deniability” there was evidence “some lawyers hire private investigators to obtain information for cases without delving too deeply into how it is gathered.

Would this strategy prevent the prosecution of a lawyer or client willing to take the risk of having something illegal done?  As the New York Times article “Investigator Admits Guilt in Hiring of a Hacker” explains, authorities are concerned about lawyers gathering information through hackers.  Furthermore, federal prosecutors follow “the principle that, ordinarily, the attorney for the government should initiate or recommend Federal prosecution if he/she believes that the person’s conduct constitutes a Federal offense and that the admissible evidence probably will be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction.”¹   Stated differently, a prosecutor is not likely to decline a prosecution if he or she thinks an individual hired a private investigator to commit a crime.

¹USAM 9-27.220

First image courtesy of Flickr (Licensed) by Dennis Skley

Second image courtesy of Flickr (Licensed) by Tsahi Levent-Levi

Copyright 2015 Fred L. Abrams