In a case with free speech implications, authorities seized computers and other equipment from the home of a Virginia man suspected by multiple law enforcement agencies of being associated with years of alleged hateful Internet messages targeting Connecticut judges.
At dawn on Thursday, Virginia State Police, at the request of Connecticut State Police detectives, served a search warrant at Paul Boyne’s home in suburban Washington, DC. The warrant, signed by a Virginia judge, authorized a search for evidence of threatening or intimidating electronic communications, according to Connecticut authorities and Boyne.
The search of Boyne’s home comes at a time when law enforcement, the state justice system and anti-hate groups such as the Connecticut Anti-Defamation League have become concerned about anonymous, anti-Semitic internet screeds , racists and misogynists, many of which seem written to incite violence against judges in the state’s family court system who deal with contentious and sometimes ruinous divorces.
In some cases, the state judiciary has tightened security due to perceived internet threats.
The warrant was sealed, along with a supporting affidavit from two Connecticut State Police detectives outlining evidence they say supports a basis to suspect Boyne was involved in threatening internet communications. In progress.
An earlier federal warrant, which served as the basis for a similar search of Boyne’s home in 2017, was unsealed. The search was part of an FBI and Connecticut State Police investigation into allegations of cyber-harassment and interstate threats. Documents filed in federal courts in Connecticut and Virginia show the FBI obtained records from companies including Google, Facebook and Twitter that linked Boyne’s home and computer address to fake social media and email accounts that , in the opinion of the authorities, would have been used to harass judges.
Among other things, according to unsealed federal records, the FBI obtained tapes showing email exchanges between Boyne and Cromwell’s Edward Taupier, who was convicted and jailed in 2015 for threatening to shoot a judge involved in his divorce. An email written by Taupier contained information about the judge’s home, the distance between his room and a nearby cemetery and ammunition that could be used to shoot him, according to testimony during his trial.
According to the federal warrant affidavit, a 2016 Twitter post the FBI said was linked to Boyne’s home address asking, in all capitals, if Taupier’s designated judge was “in your life?” and answered the question, also in all caps, with “keep calm and recharge. objective. shoot again.
More recently, law enforcement has become concerned about an anonymous internet blog that targets judges with despicable and abusive posts. He also posted a photograph of a judge inside what appears to be a gun site. Another post contains a photograph of a judge next to an enlarged ball. Still other messages contain photographs of the children of an elected official and the wives of judges and politicians.
Superior Court Judge Gerard Adelman, a frequent target of the blog, referenced it in a ruling he wrote on an exceptionally contentious divorce. Around the time Adelman was writing the ruling, one of the lawyers who appeared before him was disbarred for making allegedly anti-Semitic allegations similar to those featured on the blog. Among the allegations: a corrupt conspiracy of judges and lawyers is running lucrative legal work.
“This blog, produced by an anonymous person, is filled with anti-Semitic, homophobic and racist diatribes of the worst kind,” Adelman wrote in the court document. “It is based on the belief that the entire family court and bar of Connecticut and other states are controlled by a mysterious Jewish cabal to steal children from loving parents and give them to rapists and to pedophiles.”
Five things you need to know
We provide the latest coronavirus coverage in Connecticut every weekday morning.
State police and the court wouldn’t discuss the latest search of Boyne’s home. But a senior state police commander said last week in response to a question about the search: “We have a number of open investigations into this.”
Boyne acknowledged the research but didn’t say more in phone conversations last week. He provided the Courant with what he said in an email, half a dozen motions he filed in Fairfax County, Va., Circuit Court challenging the search, demanding the return of two computers and a telephone, and accusing the authorities of misconduct.
The federal investigation associated with the 2017 raid lasted more than a year, but ended without an arrest. The FBI and federal prosecutors involved will not discuss the case, but others have speculated that it could have been concluded that the Internet communications he discovered were protected by First Amendment safeguards.
People involved in last week’s research said legislation enacted last year to strengthen state hate crime laws could give law enforcement more leverage in the fight against cyberbullying. . The warrant issued last week at the Boyne residence authorized state police to search for evidence of crimes of intimidation based on bigotry or bias, threatening and inciting harm to persons or property — all crimes covered by last year’s legislation.
Additional crimes could be charged, such as under another 2021 law that criminalizes doxing — the posting of private or identifying information about specific people on the internet with malicious intent, an official involved in the attack said. ‘investigation.
The latest search warrant was signed by a Virginia judge and served by Virginia state police, as Connecticut law enforcement does not have the authority to do so in other states. Two Connecticut detectives were present and the seized electronic equipment was transported to Connecticut where it will be examined, officials said.
If Boyne traveled to Connecticut, he would risk being arrested on a completely different charge. During Boyne’s divorce in Connecticut courts, he was charged in 2013 with disturbing the public order, according to a law enforcement affidavit, for raising his voice and swinging a leather satchel “in a threatening manner “against a lawyer who represented him in a child. child support and custody hearing in family court. He left the state before the charge went to trial.