New York, NY – A man who received an 11th hour pardon from former President Donald Trump pleaded guilty to the same crimes in state court on Wednesday.
Ken Kurson, a close friend of President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, was charged with cyberstalking by federal prosecutors in 2020 in connection with his 2015 divorce.
Kurson received a pardon on President Trump’s last day in office.
But almost as soon as the pardon was announced, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office started working on a case against him for the same crime, ABC News reported.
Manhattan prosecutors investigated the same alleged conduct that federal investigators had probed and then charged Kurson with illegally spying on his ex-wife by illegally accessing her computer.
Kurson was charged with eavesdropping and computer trespassing, ABC News reported.
Prosecutors alleged that Kurson committed the crimes from his work computer when he was editor of the New York Observer.
But Kurson’s ex-wife never wanted any charges brought against her former husband, ABC News reported.
“Mr. Kurson’s ex-wife wrote on his behalf that she never wanted this investigation or arrest and ‘repeatedly asked for the FBI to drop it,’” the Trump administration said when they announced his pardon on Jan. 20, 2021.
“I hired a lawyer to protect me from being forced into yet another round of questioning,” the White House quoted Kurson’s ex-wife as having said. “My disgust with this arrest and the subsequent articles is bottomless.”
The pardon announcement also claimed that the investigation into Kurson was only initiated after Kushner’s friend was nominated for a job in the Trump administration, ABC News reported.
Charging documents showed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) found Kurson’s illegal conduct while they were doing his background check for a seat on the board of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Kurson helped manage former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s failed Presidential bid in 2010, ABC News reported.
Kushner, who owned the New York Observer, made Kurson its editor in 2013 and he remained there until 2017.
The federal charges filed against him last year alleged that Kurson had harassed three unnamed people, including his ex-wife and another person he blamed for his divorce, according to ABC News.
Prosecutors said Kurson targeted the other person with negative reviews on Yelp, sent threatening messages, and made anonymous phone calls.
Kurson has denied any wrongdoing, ABC News reported.
“We will not accept presidential pardons as get-out-of-jail-free cards for the well-connected in New York,” New York County District Attorney Cy Vance said in a statement.
“As alleged in the complaint, Mr. Kurson launched a campaign of cybercrime, manipulation, and abuse from his perch at the New York Observer, and now the people of New York will hold him accountable,” Vance said. “We encourage all survivors and witnesses of this type of cybercrime and intimate partner abuse to report these crimes to our Office.”
Kurson was re-arrested on state felony charges on Aug. 18, ABC News reported.
He pleaded guilty on Feb. 16 to two state-level misdemeanors for spying on his ex-wife’s computer, ABC News reported.
“I believe we have a disposition today,” Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Alona Katz said in Manhattan criminal court on Feb. 16.
Katz said that under the terms of the plea agreement, Kurson can withdraw his plea and have the charges against him reduced to harassment if he leads a “law-abiding life” for a year and does 100 hours of community service, ABC News reported.