The Justice Department is agreeing to pay $134,000 to a New York woman to resolve an incident in which the Drug Enforcement Agency created a counterfeit Facebook profile and posted risqué personal pictures the agency obtained from her mobile phone without consent, according to federal court documents [PDF] filed Tuesday.
The woman, who at the time went under the name Sondra Prince, eventually was sentenced to probation and six months of home confinement. The DEA created a phony Facebook profile in her name and maintained it for at least three months in 2010 in a bid to nab other suspects connected to an alleged drug ring. At one point in the litigation, the government said the counterfeit account was for “legitimate law enforcement purposes.”
Richard Hartunian, the US attorney for the northern district of New York, said in a statement that the settlement “demonstrates that the government is mindful of its obligation to ensure the rights of third parties are not infringed upon in the course of its efforts to bring those who commit federal crimes to justice.” He said the deal “also takes into account emerging personal privacy concerns in the age of social media, and represents a fair resolution of plaintiff’s claims.”
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