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Months after the raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, the FBI has suffered another public relation hit. A former FBI agent pleaded guilty late last year to allegations that he purposely destroyed evidence to frame a pro-Trump state lawmaker in Arkansas.
The guilty plea was part of a bargain between prosecutors and the former agent Robert Cessario, who was charged with “corrupt destruction of record in an official proceeding” in connection to the corruption trial of former state Sen. Jon Woods of Springdale.
A federal judge sentenced Cessario to three years of probation for destroying evidence in the corruption case that sent three men to federal prison.
“Cessario must spend the first six months of probation in home detention, although no electronic monitoring will be required, according to U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes. Holmes also ordered Cessario to pay a $25,000 fine. Cessario’s presentencing report says federal guidelines would require at least five months in prison. The crime Cessario admitted to — corrupt destruction of an object in an official proceeding — carries a minimum recommended sentence of 10 months in prison,” Arkansas Online reported.
“The sentence can be mitigated by cooperation, according to federal guidelines. The federal sentencing report notes Cessario acknowledged his crime, accepted a plea, and has no prior criminal history. He served in the FBI for 17 years, according to statements by Alan Jackson, the government’s attorney in the case. Defense attorney John Everett of Farmington told Holmes that Cessario’s conviction renders his client unemployable in any kind of law enforcement or security capacity,” the outlet added.
In his plea deal, Cessario stated: “I erased the contents of the computer hard knowing that the court has ordered that the computer be submitted for a forensic examination. I did so with the intention of making the contents of the computer’s hard unavailable for forensic examination. At the time, I knew that the contents of the hard drive were relevant to an official proceeding, that is, Cause No. 5:17-CR-50010, United States v. Woods et al. I corruptly performed and had performed, the erasures with intent to impair the integrity and availability of the computer hard drive and its contents for use in that official proceeding.”
“Cessario’s charges stem from his role in the corruption trial of Woods who was convicted of mail fraud and 14 counts of wire fraud in 2018,” the outlet reported. “Woods was convicted of steering state funds to Ecclesia College in Springdale in exchange for kickbacks.”
Woods also endorsed Trump in 2016, reports noted.
The former agent’s actions and plea deal came after the FBI recently searched President Joe Biden’s Delaware home and former Vice President Mike Pence’s home. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate was searched last August.
As part of the Justice Department’s probe into President Joe Biden’s handling and possession of classified documents during his days as a U.S. senator and vice president. The FBI has conducted two searches at the University of Delaware, according to a Wednesday report.
The searches took place in recent weeks in cooperation with the president’s legal team. Materials were recovered during those searches, but apparently, they did not have any classified markings, though the FBI is currently reviewing them, the source said. The searches had not been previously disclosed.
“The library at the University of Delaware, Biden’s alma mater, is home to an extensive collection of papers from the president’s time in the Senate, according to its website,” CNN reported, adding that investigators “examined two separate batches of documents during the searches: an archive of materials from Biden’s time in the US Senate and documents that Biden sent to the university in recent years.”
In addition to the classified documents, there are also questions surrounding a lack of transparency on whether or not the U.S. Secret Service has any visitor logs from Biden’s Delaware home.