Governor’s Former Campaign Manager Indicted on Computer Intrusion and False Statement Charges

FBI News:

ALBUQUERQUE—U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales and Carol K.O. Lee, Special Agent in Charge of the Albuquerque Division of the FBI, announced that a federal grand jury has indicted Jamie Estrada, 40, of Los Lunas on computer intrusion and false statement charges.

The charges against Estrada arise out of the interception of wire communications intended for others, including New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and members of her staff.

Counts one through 12 of the 14-count indictment allege that Estrada unlawfully intercepted wire communication intended for individuals who had e-mail accounts on an Internet domain owned by the governor’s political organization.

According to the indictment, the unlawful interceptions occurred between July 2011 and June 2012. Counts 13 and 14 charge Estrada with making false statements to the FBI in September 2012, in which he allegedly denied taking certain actions to unlawfully intercept wire communications as charged in counts one through 12 of the indictment. Estrada’s arraignment hearing has yet to be scheduled.

In announcing the indictment, U.S. Attorney Gonzales said, “This indictment reflects the high value that my office places on preserving the integrity of our electronic communications in a digital age. In a time when so much of our personal, professional, and financial information is repeatedly transmitted on a daily basis over e-mail and other means of wire communication, it is of paramount importance that we protect electronic information from being diverted, stolen, or otherwise misappropriated.”

Special Agent in Charge Lee added, “Thousands of intrusions into corporate networks, personal computers, and government systems occur daily, threatening our privacy, business secrets, and even national security. The Albuquerque FBI Division has devoted considerable resources into confronting this growing cyber threat, which is why this indictment today is so important to us. I would like to congratulate the FBI special agents and professional staff for their hard work on this case, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The FBI will continue to aggressively pursue individuals who would violate other people’s privacy not by breaking into homes and offices but by sneaking into computers and wireless devices.”

According to the indictment, in summer 2009, Governor Martinez, who was then the District Attorney in Dona Ana County, New Mexico, began assembling a political campaign as she prepared to enter the November 2010 gubernatorial race.

In July 2009, one of the governor’s early political supporters registered an Internet domain that was designated as (the domain) for a two-year period through an online service. The supporter then donated the domain, including its username and password, to the governor’s political organization. The username and password were required for making administrative changes to the domain, including posting content to the domain’s website and creating e-mail accounts associated with the domain.

The username and password also were required to renew the registration for the domain, which was scheduled to expire on July 18, 2011. As the owner of the domain, the governor’s political organization had the exclusive right to renew the registration before it expired and during a 42-day grace period following the expiration date.

The indictment alleges that, during the gubernatorial campaign, the domain became an important tool for the governor’s political organization. Members of the campaign staff, including Gov. Martinez, maintained e-mail accounts on the domain, which they used to communicate with each other as well with the governor’s political supporters and the media. Estrada allegedly joined the governor’s political organization as the campaign manager in July 2009, and, in that capacity, was provided with the username and password for the domain. Estrada allegedly left the campaign in December 2009. Before his departure, the governor allegedly sent Estrada an e-mail requesting that he return all information belonging to the campaign, including any usernames and passwords to any accounts.

After Gov. Martinez was inaugurated in January 2011, the governor, members of her staff, and others continued to use the e-mail accounts associated with the domain. In July 2011, individuals who had e-mail accounts on the domain began receiving reports that e-mails sent to those accounts were bouncing back to the senders and soon determined that the e-mails were not getting delivered because the domain had expired. Their efforts to re-register the domain were unsuccessful because they could not locate or recall the domain’s username and password. In July 2011 and as part of their efforts to locate the username and password, the governor’s staff allegedly asked Estrada to provide this information, and Estrada allegedly refused to comply with the request.

According to the indictment, in late July 2011, Estrada allegedly used the username and password to renew the domain and to change the domain’s settings so that, instead of going to their intended recipients, incoming e-mail communications were directed to an e-mail account on a different domain that was controlled by Estrada. As a result, between late July 2011 and June 2012, Estrada allegedly received e-mail communications intended for recipients, including Gov. Martinez and members of her staff, who had e-mail accounts associated with the domain.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John C. Anderson and Fred J. Federici.

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