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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 21, 2019

IRS Employee Charged With Unlawful Disclosure Of Suspicious Activity Reports

Analyst Provided Information to a Los Angeles Attorney and a New York Reporter

SAN FRANCISCO - A federal criminal complaint, filed on February 4, 2019, was unsealed in San Francisco today, charging John C. Fry with unlawful disclosure of Suspicious Activity Reports, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and United States Department of the Treasury, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), Special Agent in Charge Rod Ammari. 

According to the affidavit filed in support of the complaint, Fry, 54, of San Francisco, unlawfully accessed and disclosed Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) and SAR information pertaining to an individual taxpayer and a company owned by the taxpayer.  Fry was an Investigative Analyst for the IRS’s law enforcement arm, the Criminal Investigation Division, in San Francisco.  In this position, Fry had access to various law enforcement databases including the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), Palantir, and the Integrated Data Retrieval System.  

The TIGTA investigation revealed that in May 2018, Fry logged on to FinCEN and Palantir from his work computer and conducted numerous searches related to the taxpayer who was a New York attorney.  Fry then disclosed the SAR information to an attorney based in Newport Beach, Calif.  On May 8, 2018, the attorney used a public Twitter account to circulate a dossier releasing confidential banking information related to the taxpayer and the taxpayer’s company.  The SAR information that was passed to the Los Angeles attorney was published in the Washington Post on May 8, 2018.  The Los Angeles attorney put Fry in contact with an investigative reporter in New York which led to confirmation of the confidential banking information and an interview, which was published in The New Yorker on May 16, 2018. 

The criminal complaint charges Fry with violating 31 U.S.C. § 5322(a), which prohibits unauthorized disclosure of information from SARs.  Fry appeared before the U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler in federal court in San Francisco on February 21, 2019.  He was released on a $50,000 bond.  Fry’s next scheduled appearance is scheduled for March 13, 2019, at 9:30 am, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero for preliminary hearing or arraignment on indictment.

A complaint merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of five years and a fine of $250,000 for a violation of 31 U.S.C. § 5322.  However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.  

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Special Prosecutions/National Security Unit, is prosecuting the case.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the TIGTA.
 

Topic(s): 
Public Corruption
Updated February 21, 2019