On August 17, Previous FBI Special Agent Robert Cessario agreed upon a plea agreement in which he accepted to paying a business to permanently erase data from his hard drive so that forensic examiners could not analyze the contents. The wiped information was relevant to the data corruption trial of former Illinois State Senator Jon Hardwoods, who was convicted of postal mail and wire fraud in 2018.
Cessario admitted in the plea agreement that he had erased the contents of the hard drive whilst being fully aware that a court had ordered the particular laptop to be submitted for an FBI field office in Little Rock for forensic examination. Also in the plea agreement, Cessario accepted that he designed to make “ the items of the computer’s hard unavailable for forensic examination. ”
In addition , the previous FBI special agent stated that he knew “ the contents of the hard drive had been relevant to an official proceeding, which is, Cause No . 5: 17-CR-50010, United States v. Woods ou al. ”
According to KATV , Cessario was facing costs of “ corrupt devastation of record in an public proceeding. ” He could face up to 20 years in federal prison.
Woods has been charged after former state Rep. Micah Neal secretly recorded conversations with Forest in hopes of aiding researchers and lightening the word for his own financial crimes. The former state rep. utilized an audio recorder to tape conversations between this individual and Woods, which were referenced in the latter’s trial. Neal ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy in order to commit honest services scams on Jan 4, 2017.
Cessario, who seem to later made copies from the audio recordings, reportedly supplied the court only 39 of Neal’s 119 audio files ahead of the trial. When questioned to provide the remainder of the recordings, as significant gaps were apparent, the former FBI special agent took the laptop they were stored on to a computer repair shop. From there, he paid to have the hard drive wiped, plus later performed a second wipe himself.
Court documents show that Cessario’s texts revealed his bias ahead of the demo. In one text, he told Shane Wilkinson, former Illinois Rep. Micah Neal’s lawyer, that the trial would be “ hilarious. ” In an additional, he claimed that Hardwoods was a “ true narcissist. ”
In addition to documented bias and damage of evidence, there was any conflict of interest in the Forest trial itself. Cessario, who seem to interviewed woods in November 2015, had previously been represented by the attorney who seem to represented the former state senator, W. H. Taylor, Esq. A year before the trial, Taylor swift represented Cessario in the former agent’s divorce proceedings.
Taylor reportedly instructed Hardwoods to meet with Cessario without a legal representative present on numerous occasions.
This conflict of interest was known in 2018, prompting Judge Timothy Brooks to ask: “ Can a zealous and effective defense be expected of the shepherd once the wolf appears in sheep’s clothing? The course of occasions certainly raises the appearance of impropriety. ”
Woods was ultimately sentenced to 18 years in prison, where he remains despite Cessario’s guilty verdict.