A former FBI analyst was sentenced on Friday for illegally accessing his neighbor's email for spying purposes.
Mark Tolson pleaded guilty in September to one misdemeanor charge of computer fraud, the Washington Post reported. Court documents state that he illegally accessed the email account of Washington lobbyist Jack Burkman, who was working with a notorious far-right activist on a smear campaign against Robert Mueller.
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Tolson admitted he unlawfully accessed Burkman's emails in October 2018, after the conspiracy-minded lobbyist announced plans to hold a news conference to air sexual harassment allegations against Mueller. After snooping through Burkman's account, Tolson sent screenshots of the messages and offered the password to an unspecified journalist, court filings say.
Tolson's wife, Sarah Gilbert Fox, facilitated the illicit access by providing Burkman's email password, which she had obtained for work she'd previously done for him.
At his sentencing Friday, Tolson told U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema that he committed the crime out of a desire "to protect Director Mueller."
Brinkema, however, did not fully buy Tolson's claim. Bringing the illegally obtained emails to the media before the FBI demonstrated that Tolson's had other motivations for obtaining the emails, she said.
"This is actually a very serious offense," Brinkema said, Politico reported. "You're lucky. Your wife is lucky. The government could have prosecuted her as well."
In the end, Brinkema sentenced Toslon to seven days in jail, ordered him to serve 50 hours of community service, fined him $500, and placed him on probation for one year.