Appearing on “Fox News at Night,” attorney Tyler Brooks told show host Shannon Bream that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman used a fake Facebook account, in much the same way that Russia has been accused of interfering in the 2016 election, to collect information on unwary Americans who were targeted for a year-long investigation. According to the Thomas More Law Center, a public interest law firm based in Michigan, Schneiderman used information from the fake Facebook account that was created by his office’s star witness under the fictitious name “Shelly Walker.”
The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) is representing Angela Braxton and Jasmine LaLande -- just two of the fourteen people who were sued by NY Attorney General Schneiderman in 2017. Braxton and LaLande are sidewalk counselors who routinely appeared outside the Choices Women’s Medical Center (“Choices”) in New York City’s Jamaica neighborhood. They sought to dissuade women from getting abortions by handing out pamphlets and by picketing. TMLC is seek a dismissal of the suit against its clients.
The information gleaned from the fake Facebook account under the “Shelly Walker” name was passed on to Schneiderman’s office. TMLC’s client, Angela Braxton, accepted a friend request by the fictitious Shelly Walker under the impression that Walker was a fellow pro-life advocate like herself. Braxton did not know that Walker was actually someone cooperating with the abortion provider, Choices.
Angela Braxton is a survivor of the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City.
On February 15, it was during a courtroom cross-examination by TMLC attorney Tyler Brooks that Attorney General Schneiderman’s star witness admitted to creating the fake Facebook page under the fictitious name of Shelly Walker, passing on the information she gathered to Schneiderman’s office.
Following the courtroom admission, Schneiderman’s office provided a carefully written response to Fox News. “The account was set up by a third party without our office’s knowledge and before our office began its investigation. Our office did not ask her to share anything from the account with us.”
According to TMLC, the real life person who created the fictitious Shelly Walker persona sent out hundreds of friend requests on Facebook, thus friending hundreds of pro-life advocates around the country. The law firm said that she (the prosecution’s star witness) purposely sought out pro-life and conservative groups and claimed to be a supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rev. Frank Pavone -- a Catholic priest. “She fabricated an emotional personal story,” wrote a TMLC release, “of being talked into an abortion by her husband, who she later divorced (none of it true).”
According to TMLC, the real person who used the Shelly Walker moniker is strongly pro-abortion and is a leader among those to escort women into the Choices abortion facility. While she did not share any conservative or pro-life views, claimed TMLC, she created this fake persona of Shelley Walker to appear as a concerned pro-life advocate to gather information on and entrap pro-life counselors.
TMLC said that the witness admitted that she shared the information of the targeted pro-life counselors with the Attorney General's Office. “The Office never told her to stop or to delete the information based on her fraudulent Facebook postings. In fact, the Office outfitted her with a concealed video camera to record pro-life counselors in front of Choices.” The law firm noted that Attorney General Schneiderman told NPR's All Things Considered program recently that he was cracking down on fake identities, impersonations, and fraud on the internet.
TMLC claims that the statement by Schneiderman’s office is false. TMLC provided relevant parts of the testimony provided by Schneiderman’s witness. Federal Judge Carol Bagley Amon is referred to in the transcript as “The Court.” Here follows a partial transcript:
MR. BROOKS: Now, you told the Office of the Attorney General about that account? [Fake Shelley Walker Facebook]
Q And you used that account to obtain information that you then passed to the Office of the Attorney General?
At this point, lawyer for the AG office objects, to which Judge Amon requests Mr. Brooks to clarify his question to the witness:
MR. BROOKS: Okay.
Q Maybe I'll just ask at what point in time did you use that account to obtain information that you passed to the Office of the Attorney General?
A I don't know.
THE COURT: Did you continue to use that account after you met with the Attorney General?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
THE COURT: And did you then turn over information that you gleaned after that point in time to the Attorney General?
THE WITNESS: I think I may have mentioned to Ms. Trasande [Attorney General’s Attorney] that I had but I can't remember a specific thing that I turned over, if anything.
THE COURT: Okay.
TMLC attorney Brooks impeaches the witness’s testimony:
Q Well, you said you can't remember anything specific that you turned over from that account?
A I can't at this moment, no.
Q Okay. Well, then let me refresh your recollection by reading your deposition.
"QUESTION: Using the Shelly Walker Facebook page, did you use the Shelly Walker Facebook page to obtain information about Angela Braxton that you subsequently passed on to the New York State Attorney General's Office?"
I did read that correctly?
Q Was that testimony that you gave in your deposition true?
A Yes. I told her about photos and posts.
Q So my next question was:
"QUESTION: What information was that?"
And you answered:
"ANSWER: Photos and videos that she had posted outside Choices. I didn't quite understand you and you added:
"ANSWER: Also people that she had brought to Choices."
Q I read that correctly?
A Yes. I told her about Angela's online organizing.
Q And that those photos and videos you collected from the website Shelly Walker Facebook page and provided those to the Office of the Attorney General?
A I think I just told her about it. I don't remember giving her copies.
TMLC attorney Brooks impeaches the testimony of the Attorney General’s star witness a second time:
"QUESTION: At the time you took information from the Angela Braxton Facebook page using the Shelly Walker page, and provided that information to the New York Attorney General's office, did you tell the New York Attorney General's office that the Shelly Walker page is how you got it?"
Is that true?
THE COURT: Let me ask you this. Did anyone from the Attorney General's office tell you to stop using that page?
THE WITNESS: No. They told me not to delete it.
Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.