ASSOCIATED PRESS: Four conservative activists accused of trying to tamper with the phones in Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) office pleaded guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor charges of entering federal property under false pretenses. James O’Keefe, 25, an activist already famous for his videotaped conversations with ACORN officials in several cities, was sentenced to three years probation, 100 hours of community service and a $1,500 fine. The FBI has said O’Keefe used his cellphone to try to capture video of two others who posed as telephone repairmen and asked to see the phones at Landrieu’s office in New Orleans. O’Keefe has said they were trying to investigate complaints that constituents couldn’t get through to Landrieu’s office to criticize her support of a health-care reform bill. MORE
RELATED: Alluding to the deceptive tactics the activist used to produce the videotapes shaming ACORN, Judge Knowles explained his decision to be stricter with O’Keefe by saying, “Your record concerns me.” MORE
RELATED: “I plan to release a video soon of another organization we all know very well,” the 25-year-old boasted. MORE
RELATED: O’Keefe — who already had a well-established, if entirely unreported, record of lying to the media and the public about his phony, highly-doctored and illegally-recorded ACORN videos — then went on to offer a preposterous public statement to explain his New Orleans scheme.But now that O’Keefe’s superstar GOP attorney was successful in pleading his client’s felony charges down to a misdemeanor — to which he and his conspirators pled guilty yesterday before a federal magistrate — lo and behold, the FBI has released their own account of the arrest and plea deal. MORE
Department of Justice Press Release
For Immediate Release
May 26, 2010 United States Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Louisiana
Contact: (504) 680-3000
Four Men Plead Guilty to Entering Federal Property Under False Pretenses
Entered Senator Mary Landrieu’s Office to Secretly Record Office Staff Conversations
NEW ORLEANS—Joseph Basel, 24; Stan Dai, 25; Robert Flanagan, 24; and James O’Keefe, 25, pleaded guilty today in front of U. S. Magistrate Judge Daniel E. Knowles, III, to one-count of entering federal property under false pretenses, announced the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana. As a result of their conviction, Basel, Dai and Flanagan were each ordered to pay a $1,500 fine, placed on two years probation and serve 75 hours of community service within the first year of probation; O’Keefe was ordered to pay a $1,500 fine, placed on three years probation and serve 100 hours of community service within the first year of probation.
According to court documents, the four men met in New Orleans on Jan. 20, 2010, to discuss various topics, including possible scenarios to engage the staff of Senator Mary Landrieu in her office inside the Hale Boggs Federal Building in New Orleans and to record the interactions. On Saturday, Jan. 23, 2010, O’Keefe called Flanagan and invited him to participate in the plan, which Flanagan accepted. The next day, Basel, Dai, Flanagan and O’Keefe met, discussed the disguises they would wear, and practiced how they would interact with Senator Landrieu’s staff and record the interactions.
Also according to court documents, at approximately 10:00 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 25, 2010, Basel, Flanagan and O’Keefe met in an office near the Hale Boggs Federal Building to finalize their plan, check the recording devices and mount a camera in one of the disguises. During this meeting, O’Keefe explained how the recording devices worked and instructed Basel and Flanagan how to position themselves once inside the Senator’s office.
At approximately 11:00 a.m., Basel, Flanagan and O’Keefe entered the federal building and passed through the security screening. Their purpose was to orchestrate a conversation about phone calls to the Senator’s staff and capture the resulting conversation on video. Dai remained outside to provide support. Basel and Flanagan were each dressed like telephone repairmen, wearing blue denim pants, a blue work shirt, a fluorescent green vest, a tool belt and a white hard hat. One of the hats contained a video recording device installed on the brim.
O’Keefe entered Senator Landrieu’s office first and positioned a digital video recorder made to look like a cellular telephone in his hand to record the interaction. He told the staff that he was waiting for a friend. He recorded the subsequent interaction.
Basel and Flanagan entered the office soon thereafter and told the Senator’s staff that they were telephone repairmen who were following up on reports of problems with the telephone system. A staff member said that there were no problems with the phone system, and Basel then asked the staff member for permission to test the phone. Basel then walked behind a staff member’s desk, lifted the handset from the cradle, questioned whether there was a dial tone and handled the receiver. Basel and Flanagan each pretended to call the office phone with their own cellular phones, and they said the calls would not go through. O’Keefe also interjected and said he had previously placed a call to the office that would not go through.
Basel then told a staff member that he and Flanagan needed to perform repair work on the main phone system, and he asked that they be taken to the “central box.” The staff member directed them to the office of the General Services Administration (GSA), and Basel and Flanagan followed the staff member to GSA’s office inside the Hale Boggs Federal Building. Upon meeting a GSA employee, Basel and Flanagan again said they were telephone repairmen, and Basel again asked to be taken to the phone system’s “central box.”
The GSA employee asked Basel and Flanagan if they had a work order or credentials, and they responded that they had left both their work order and credentials in their vehicle, parked just outside of the building. The GSA employee then informed Basel and Flanagan that he would escort them to their truck so that they could provide him with the work order and their credentials.
O’Keefe left Senator Landrieu’s office several minutes after Basel and Flanagan went to the GSA office, after pretending to take a call from “Sam.”
All four men were apprehended shortly thereafter
The investigation of this matter was conducted by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Deputy Marshals with the U.S. Marshal’s Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordan Ginsberg.
PW: Tuesday night the board of ACORN Pennsylvania voted to dissolve the Keystone state chapter of the embattled community-service organization and re-invent itself as Pennsylvania Communities Organizing For Change, according to Craig Robbins, the former Head Organizer for ACORN PA, who will now serve as executive director of the newly formed PCOC. The board’s decision came in the wake of an announcement Monday from ACORN’s national leadership that it was ceasing operations and that state chapters would be given the option of closing up shop or re-branding themselves as standalone statewide community-service organizations. MORE
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