An Internal Revenue Service (IRS) analyst was charged Thursday for disclosing confidential information regarding the bank records of longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California charged John Fry with leaking a suspicious activity report (SAR), which financial institutions file upon spotting red flags associated with a transaction.
Fry, an investigative analyst with the IRS’s law-enforcement arm, is accused of turning over the reports in the spring of 2018 to an attorney, Michael Avenatti, and of confirming confidential banking information in them to a reporter for The New Yorker, according to the complaint, which was filed under seal earlier this month. In May 2018, Fry, who works in the IRS’ San Francisco office, accessed and downloaded five SARs connected to Cohen, according to the complaint, and then, seeing that other such documents were unavailable in the database, turned over some of the SARs to Avenatti and told The New Yorker reporter that he was alarmed to see other SARs were inaccessible, the complaint says.
Last May, Avenatti published a document detailing various payments made to the longtime Trump lawyer from an entity connected to a Russian billionaire and pharmaceutical conglomerate Novartis. CNN reports that Fry’s hearing date was rescheduled repeatedly as his lawyer and federal prospectors negotiated a potential plea agreement. The IRS analyst reportedly turned down an offer to plead guilty to felony charges in exchange for probation time, and will likely face two additional charges, which include the misuse of a government computer and misuse of a Social Security number.
A federal judge on December 12 sentenced Cohen to three years in prison on nine counts, including tax evasion, campaign finance violation, and issuing false statements to a bank in connection to hush money arranged for two women who allege to have had an affair with President Trump.
In his plea agreement, Cohen admitted to paying $130,000 to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election for her to remain silent about the alleged affair, which she claimed occurred after the president and first lady Melania Trump were married. The longtime Trump lawyer, who also paid former Playboy Karen McDougal for her silence about an affair, claimed he made the payments were made “at the direction” of then-candidate Trump.