A Not-So-Mysterious Break-In At Whistleblower’s Law Firm
The offices of a Dallas law firm representing a high-profile State Department whistleblower were broken into last weekend. Burglars stole three computers and broke into the firm’s file cabinets. But silver bars, video equipment and other valuables were left untouched, according to local Fox affiliate KDFW, which aired security camera footage of the suspected burglars entering and leaving the offices around the time of the incident.
The firm Schulman & Mathias represents Aurelia Fedenisn, a former investigator at the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General. In recent weeks, she raised a slew of explosive allegations against the department and its contractors ranging from illicit drug use, soliciting sexual favors from minors and prostitutes and sexual harassment.
“It’s a crazy, strange and suspicious situation,” attorney Cary Schulman told The Cable. “It’s clear to me that it was somebody looking for information and not money. My most high-profile case right now is the Aurelia Fedenisn case, and I can’t think of any other case where someone would go to these great lengths to get our information.”
(Note - writer John Hudson also got an exclusive on allegations by Aurelia Fedenisn’s attorney, Cary Schulman, that the State Department was trying to bully her into silence. foreignpolicy.com)
Upon getting picked up by Foreign Policy, the story quickly spread, fueling speculation that nefarious political forces were at play. On top of there being no evidence at present to support this conclusion, there are other problems with this conclusion that involve the lack of care exhibited by the perpetrators that is more typical of common criminals rather than Watergate plumbers.
Video surveillance captured the burglar entering the building and then leaving three times (at 8:30 p.m. that Saturday, 3:30 a.m. the following morning and again shortly afterward). One of the videos shows him enter the office building with a woman. However, the other two times he’s the only person seen entering the building.
If the burglar had a primary objective to steal something specific, why would he not take it the first time? Why assume the additional risk of returning not once, but twice over the course of a day to steal more?
Among the odd details about the robbery is that only one credit card was stolen from a drawer that contained four cards. It’s unclear to the attorneys why the crooks took one card from the drawer, but left behind three others and unsecured silver valued around $125.
The missing credit card was used for several retail purchases at Dallas’ Valley View Center mall around 4:45 p.m. on June 29, Mathias said.
Eerily, the shopping spree happened four hours before security cameras in the firm’s office building recorded two suspects first entering the building and then leaving with computers.
Dallas police spokeswoman Sherri Jeffrey told U.S. News that although the crime remains unsolved, police are aware of the purchases and seeking to acquire store surveillance footage.
Using a stolen credit card to purchase goods at a mall is one of the surest ways that a criminal can get caught. It’s certainly not something one would do if the goal was to get information from the attorneys’ computers without getting caught.
One thing that does not fit here is that the credit card purchases at the mall were made prior to the first known security footage of the burglars entering the building. Did the burglars actually steal the credit card first at an earlier time then go back to get the computers after going to the mall? This part of the story deserves further inquiry.
Mathias say he’s got some idea of how and even where the computers are being used, thanks to LogMeIn, software that gives him remote access to the iMacs. He says he even has the IP addresses of where the computers are being used.
Considering attorney Mathias has an idea of how the computers are being used yet he doesn’t specifically say that the computers are being used to access Fedensisn’s files, it’s easier to assume that he has not discovered any connection between the two. Regardless, the police can use the computers’ IP addresses to get a court order to identify the subscriber and get their physical address (which should already be done at this point). It would not be surprising if the burglars have already been identified.
It is clear that the narrative of political forces being behind the burglary has not been able to stand up to scrutiny. As noted by Media Matters, Schulman could not even make it through an interview without his story falling apart.
SCHULMAN: Well, first of all they were in the office multiple times over the weekend coming back and forth. So they came in one time, got a computer, left, came back got another computer and you can see how casual they are. I’m not pointing any fingers at the Department of State, but let’s take a look at the facts with regard to the Department of State. One, we know that we’re looking for someone who has committed crimes in the past. State Department? Check. Number two, we also know that the burglars left behind blood evidence and were caught on the video - so we know we are looking for someone that has botched big jobs before. State Department? Check. And number three, we know that, essentially, the burglars have been unwilling to come forward with evidence of the crimes voluntarily and we don’t know their whereabouts. Check, check. Now I’m not saying that it’s the Department of State, but I’ll tell you this: if the Department of State calls off this investigation and then later publicly comes out and says they’ve investigated it and they’ve determined they did nothing wrong then I think we should take a hard look at them.
When challenged, Schulman went on to claim that he was joking when he said this, a stunning implosion on top of admitting he had no proof to substantiate any of his allegations.
Currently, there is no known evidence or other support in favor of this incident being anything other than a typical burglary committed by people who have shown a lack of care about getting caught. Indeed, the perpetrators may be caught at any time, affording everyone the opportunity to then question their motives. Schulman and Mathias have made serious allegations and other innuendos that the burglary was politically motivated without any basis other than their own suspicions. These attorneys do their client no favors by getting so far out in front of the facts.