An agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is being sued for using images and information taken from an arrested New York woman’s cellphone and using them to attempt to trick others into providing secrets about an illicit drug operation.
Buzzfeed originally reported on the situation, detailing how Sondra Arquiett was originally arrested in July 2010 for possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Upon her arrest, Arquiett did agree to help federal prosecutors, however, in court filings she states that she never explicitly allowed the DEA to gather pictures from her cellphone and create a fake account.
The Department of Justice disagrees, stating that Arquiett did not directly authorize DEA Agent Timothy Sinnigen to create a fake facebook account but she “implicitly consented by granting access to the information stored in her cellphone and by consenting to the use of that information to aid in … ongoing criminal investigations.”
Sinnigen was attempting to use Arquiett’s contacts to locate other drug dealers, namely her boyfriend who was accused of being part of a large drug distribution network. He confiscated private information and photographs from her cellphone to create a facebook profile under the name Sondra Prince. The account was active for three months without Arquiett’s knowledge. In that time Sinnigen was acting as if he was Arquiett and attempting to communicate with potential business partners. The profile has since been taken down.