D.A. Vance: Presidential Pardonee Ken Kurson Charged with Cybercrime Felonies


August 18, 2021

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. today filed charges against KENNETH KURSON, 52, in New York County Criminal Court. KURSON is charged with Eavesdropping and Computer Trespass, each a class E felony, for unlawfully accessing communications of his then-wife from September 2015 through March 2016 while he served as Editor-In-Chief of Observer Media Group.

On October 23, 2020, KURSON was charged for related conduct by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. On January 20, 2021, KURSON was granted a full pardon by President Donald J. Trump. The New York State charges follow an investigation by the D.A.’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau commenced in January 2021 after the pardon was issued.

“We will not accept presidential pardons as get-out-of-jail-free cards for the well-connected in New York,” said District Attorney Vance. “As alleged in the complaint, Mr. 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. We encourage all survivors and witnesses of this type of cybercrime and intimate partner abuse to report these crimes to our Office.”

As alleged in the Manhattan Criminal Court Complaint and stated on the record in court, from September 24, 2015 to March 3, 2016, KURSON unlawfully used an electronic monitoring software program commonly known as “spyware” on a computer belonging to his then-wife, with whom he lived. Using the spyware to monitor his wife’s keystrokes, KURSON obtained her passwords and accessed her Gmail and Facebook accounts. According to IP address records, KURSON used the spyware from his computer at the offices of the Observer Media Group on West 44thStreet in midtown Manhattan, where he was working as Editor-In-Chief, among other locations.

Among other intrusions, in October 2015, KURSON unlawfully accessed and then anonymously disseminated private Facebook messages.

Assistant D.A.s Alex Wynne and Alona Katz are prosecuting this case under the supervision of Elizabeth Roper (Chief of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau), Gloria Garcia (Deputy Chief of the Investigation Division), and Executive Assistant D.A. Christopher Conroy (Chief of the Investigation Division). Senior Rackets Investigators Thomas Mullin and Erin Mulderig assisted with the investigation.                                                                                                   

District Attorney Vance thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the South Orange (New Jersey) Police Department for their assistance with the investigation.

 

Defendant Information:

 

KENNETH KURSON

South Orange, New Jersey

 

Charged:

 

  • Eavesdropping, a class E felony, one count
  • Computer Tresspass, a class E felony, one count