Sondra Arquiett, a woman from New York, has reached a settlement with the Justice Department after federal drug agents used information from her cellphone to set up a fake Facebook page using her identity.
Arquiett won $134,000 and, in turn, the government did not admit any wrongdoing. Last October, the Justice department would review whether the undercover tactic went too far, reported the Daily Mail.
“This 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,” Richard Hartunian, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of New York, said in a statement.
After Arquiett was arrested on drug charges, federal drug agents used her information to create a Facebook page in hopes of arresting more drug users. Arquiett pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy charge in 2011, and was sentenced a year later.
In 2013, Arquiett sued the government for using her personal information on Facebook and claimed she was emotionally distressed and fearful she was in danger because the fake profile made it seem like she was willfully cooperating with a federal investigation.
Initially the Justice Department defended its decision, saying Arquiett “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,” according to court documents. Federal drug agents used the name “Sondra Prince” on the fake Facebook page, but used Arquiett’s photos, including selfies, and pretended to be her for several months.
A federal judge has yet rule on the legality of the Justice Department’s actions.