new-york-charges-former-kushner-associate-with-cyberstalking-months-after-trump-pardon

A New York state prosecutor has charged a former close associate of Jared Kushner with cyberstalking less than a year after President Donald Trump gave him a federal pardon for related allegations.

Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York charged the man, Ken Kurson, the former editor of the Kushner-owned New York Observer newspaper, in October with cyberstalking three victims in 2015 under pseudonyms like Jayden Wagner and Eddie Train.

Federal prosecutors said in a statement at the time that “Kurson used multiple aliases to file false complaints about two of the victims with their employer, post false negative reviews about one victim’s professional conduct on crowd-sourced review websites and made unsolicited contact with two of the victims.”

According to court filings, Kurson and federal prosecutors were in plea negotiations when Trump pardoned Kurson and a host of other people, including Steve Bannon, on Jan. 19, his last full day in office.

The president’s pardon power, however, does not extend to state crimes. Now Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office has filed state felony charges against Kurson alleging eavesdropping and computer trespass.

State prosecutors say that as Kurson and his wife were headed for divorce, he placed spyware on her computer to obtain passwords to her Gmail and Facebook accounts from September 2015 to March 2016. Kurson is alleged to have monitored his wife’s communications while at the Observer’s offices.

In a statement Wednesday, Vance said, “We will not accept presidential pardons as get-out-of-jail-free cards for the well-connected in New York,” adding, “Kurson launched a campaign of cybercrime, manipulation, and abuse from his perch at the New York Observer and now the people of New York will hold him accountable.”

Kurson and his wife finalized their divorce on Jan. 25, 2016. He left the Observer in 2017.

In their now-dismissed charging documents, federal prosecutors alleged that the victims were Kurson’s wife and two other people he blamed for the divorce and said the victims “described Kurson’s conduct towards them as ‘traumatic,’ ‘diabolical,’ ‘insane,’ ‘super scary,’ ‘frightening,’ ‘threatening,’ ‘malicious’ and ‘terrif[ying].'”

At the time of the federal charges, Kurson’s attorney, Marc Mukasey, said, “The conduct alleged is hardly worthy of a federal criminal prosecution.” Mukasey confirmed Wednesday that he is representing Kurson in the state case but said he is not commenting at this time.

Tom Winter

Tom Winter is a New York-based correspondent covering crime, courts, terrorism and financial fraud on the East Coast for the NBC News Investigative Unit.

Jonathan Dienst

Jonathan Dienst is a reporter for WNBC-TV in New York, leading its investigative reporting team and covering justice and law enforcement issues.

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