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FinCEN Leaker Edwards Wants Removals From Docket, Inner City Press Asks for Unsealing

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video Patreon Order

SDNY COURTHOUSE, June 17 – The U.S. Treasury employee accused in October 2018 of leaking Suspicious Activity Reports about Paul Manafort and others, Natalie Edwards, pleaded guilty to one count on January 13, 2020 before U.S. District Court Southern District of New York Judge Gregory H. Woods.

  On June 3, 2021, Edwards was sentenced at the top of the guidelines, which Judge Woods said understated the gravity of the offense - to six months, beginning in August. Thread here and below.

  Edwards got a plea agreement for between zero and six months and a $9500 fine which her lawyer afterward told Inner City Press was a standard fine. Video here; live tweeted thread of plea proceeding here. More on Patreon here.

 After the sentencing, Edwards counsel asked to have two documents removed from the docket, after having gotten letters submitted by Edwards sealed. So Inner City Press has filed, here on DocumentCloud here, now in the docket and on CourtListener here:

"I write for a second time pursuant to your June 6, 2021 order and in supplemental support of the July 21, 2021 application for press and public access to submissions to this Court by defendant Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, that triggered a judicial conference.  Those submissions, which the US references in its filing of today's date, were also referred to by the defendant at sentencing. While not entirely clear, she appeared to thank the Court not only for considering but also acting on her submission. That would seem to make them judicial documents - and the decision to the contrary should be reconsidered in light of what was said at sentencing.  The US Attorney's Office which stood by as those submissions were sealed now refers to them as relevant background to its filed of MSPB documents it does not want sealed. Both sets of documents should be public: the MSPB filing already in the public docket, and the defendant's submission which remain, for now, sealed.  Tellingly, the defendant wants both sets of documents withheld from the press and public; the US wants what it made public to remain so, but is indifferent to the sealing of defendant's submissions it already saw. The Press wants both sets of documents made part of the record. See US v. Gerena, 869 F.2d 82 (2d Cir. 1989)  For consistency, and to provide transparency into what the defendant was thanking the Court for during her sentencing, all of the records should be made public and part of the docket." Watch this site.

 Back on August 4, 2020, Inner City Press filed its second opposition to the attempt to make Edwards' submissions to SDNY Judge Woods disappear as supposedly not judicial documents.

 On October 20, Judge Woods in a 12-page order denied Inner City Press' request (full order on DocumentCould here) and quoted below.

  Here is Inner City Press' live thread of the June 3 in-person sentencing, here:

Edwards' lawyer says she raised $1.2 million for a curriculum about "American Indians in Virginia." Says parents got threatening call.

 Judge Woods says he's opening AT&T line. But "host passcode not recognized." Edwards speaking with her lawyer by phone as well. #CourtsDuringCOVID

 Edwards wants to speak after the US Attorney's Office. Judge Woods says he'll allow US to rebut.

AUSA says Edwards leaked not only about Mueller probe but also about #Hezbollah. Says the word "podcast" with scorn.

AUSA repeatedly calls Edwards "self-centered.":Says she was paid $160,000 a year. Wants jail time.

 AUSA is laying it on thick: "The criminal she was looking for was herself." Adds that she ran searches she didn't even think up herself.   Inner City Press can't help comparing this to Schulte & CIA #vault7

 AUSA says leaker John C. Fry was targeted, Edwards was just trying to get a lawsuit settlement. Here in the courtroom, Edwards picks up phone to talk with her lawyer

Now Edwards: I'm an indigenous matriarch. Our tribe was recognized in the 1980s. The clan mothers can impeach the chief.

Edwards: Thank you, your Honor, for your action on my letter to you.  [That's the letter still being withheld despite Inner City Press filings]

Edwards says her rights  were violated by posting of her Individual Right of Action letter. Then says she apologizes for the information disclosed to public.  [While wothholding her own letter to the Court]

 AUSA in rebuttal calls Edwards a liar.  [I'm waiting to hear, Pants on fire. Sur-rebuttal?]

Judge Woods: The sentencing guidelines range is 0 to 6 months. I intend to sentence Doctor Sours Edwards to six months incarceration. #breaking

 Judge Woods, after announcing the prison sentence of 6 months, is running through his reasoning. Cites leak of Hezbollah, says it's ironic someone who joined US government after 9/11/01 would leak / help Hezbollah

 Judge Woods says Edwards took steroids, quoting pre-sentencing report that's sealed. He says specific deterrence not needed: she'll never be entrusted with classified info again. This is about general deterrence.

Judge Woods agrees with US that the guidelines understate the magnitude of the offence. He asks Edwards to rise, and says: six months then supervised release with search condition.

Judge Woods says Edwards' husband has a furearm, but that she should not have one.  Edwards' lawyer asks about surrender date, wants near tesidence, 60 days for therapy,  US: No objection. Judge: Surrender Aug 2.

Waiting by elevator outside Courtroom 12C to ask Edwatds about still-sealed letters...

They emerged. Inner City Press asked Edwards about the sealed letters, will they now be unsealed. Defense lawyer said she doesn't know. But it was her request to seal. That Inner City Press, but not US Attorney's Office, opposed. And opposes.

 On October 29 Edwards' lawyer wrote in again -- now seeking to move the sentencing back from November 9 to mid January: "It is my position that even if the Court were to find that the CARES Act, the Constitution and the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure authorize a remote sentence proceeding, Dr. Edwards has a right to be physically present in the Court for her sentencing. Dr. Edwards does want to be present in Court with her family for her sentencing.1 This poses an impediment to having Dr. Edwards’ sentence hearing take place on November 9, 2020, as now scheduled."

   Many sentencings, including in person, have occurred in the SDNY, including one briefing postponed due to South Carolina, before Judge Engelmayer. (The sentencing took place November 4 and Inner City Press covered it here, noted and quoted here and here).

 On November 5, Judge Woods granted the postponement: "ORDER as to Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards. A sentencing hearing is scheduled in this matter on January 19, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. in Courtroom 12C...  (Signed by Judge Gregory H. Woods on 11/5/20)(jw)."

Then on January 8, this: "Re: United States v. Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, 19-cr-00064 (GHW) Dear Judge Woods: After conferring with the government, I write in response to the Court’s order filed January 7, 2021, to suggest mutually agreeable dates for Dr. Edwards’ sentencing. The parties propose that sentencing occur on March 24, 25 or 26, 2021, or any day the week of March 29, 2021. Dr. Edwards wants to be sentenced in person, and it appears more likely that two months from now travel restrictions, including quarantine requirements, will be relaxed. Depending on the speed with which vaccinations become available to the general public, it is also possible that Dr. Edwards and I will have been vaccinated, which would permit us to meet in person to discuss her sentencing, which has not been feasible to date. Respectfully submitted,  Stephanie Carvlin."

And  on January 11, this: "MEMO ENDORSEMENT as to Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards (1) granting [94] LETTER MOTION addressed to Judge Gregory H. Woods from Stephanie Carvlin dated 1/8/2021 re: to set a new sentencing date. ENDORSEMENT: Application granted. The sentencing is adjourned to April 2, 2021."

And on February 17, this: "ORDER as to Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards: It is hereby ORDERED that the sentencing hearing currently scheduled for April 2, 2021 is adjourned to May 20, 2021."

And now on May 10, this: "ORDER as to Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards: It is hereby ORDERED that the sentencing hearing currently scheduled for May 20, 2021 is adjourned to June 3, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. in Courtroom 12C, Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse, 500 Pearl Street, New York, New York 10007. (Sentencing set for 6/3/2021 at 12:00 PM in Courtroom 12C, 500 Pearl Street, New York, NY 10007 before Judge Gregory H. Woods) (Signed by Judge Gregory H. Woods on 5/10/2021)." We'll have more on all this.

On October 26 the US filed its sentencing memo, asking for six months in jail and saying, among other things, that "Reporter-1" at BuzzFeed shared with Edwards a still unpublished news article. And the letters are still being withheld? We'll have more on this.

  Back on October 23, Edwards' new lawyer filed a sentencing memorandum that included quotes from BuzzFeed's emails, themes they "returned to more than once when he sought information from Dr. Edwards." She was told, "Wyden was livid." More than 2400 pages of WhatsApp communication are offered to the Court - but the letters are withheld. This makes no sense.

From Judge Wood's October 20 order, now in a different light: "Matthew Lee of Inner City Press requested access to the documents, arguing that “the public and the press have a presumptive First Amendment and common law right of Case 1:19-cr-00064-GHW Document 80 Filed 10/20/20 Page 7 of 12 8 access to criminal proceedings and records.”1  July 21, 2020 Letter, Dkt. No. 60, at 1. The letter respectfully disagreed with the Court’s determination that “documents that trigger a Federal criminal case conference are not judicial documents.” Id. at 2. The letter also argued that the public interest in the documents was not small. Id. On July 30, 2020, Dr. Sours Edwards filed her opposition to the request. July 30, 2020 Letter, Dkt. No. 65. Mr. Lee submitted replies on August 4, 2020 and August 5, 2020. August 4, 2020 and August 5, 2020 Emails, Dkt. Nos. 66 and 67... The Court acknowledges that some may be interested in seeing what a defendant in the position of Dr. Sours Edwards might choose to say to the Court in such straights. Especially because her counsel advised that whatever Dr. Sours Edwards wrote was something that should not be considered by the Court. The prospect of a cri de coeur written by a criminal defendant without the benefit of counsel may represent an enticing opportunity for an unfiltered look inside of the defendant’s mind. But evaluating the fairness and integrity of the Court’s proceedings and decisions does not require disclosure of the content of those submissions. Nor, in the Court’s view, considering all of the circumstances, would it be a fair result for the defendant. Because Dr. Sours Edwards’ pro se, ex parte submissions are not judicial documents, the application to unseal them is DENIED. SO ORDERED. Dated: October 20, 2020 GREGORY H. WOODS United States District Judge." We'll have more on this.

 In this context it may be useful to consider a document signed "May Edwards" which says she has and has submitted information on questions including "Yemen (2015)," Libya, Iran, China, Maria Butina and the Clinton Foundation, photo 1 here, 2 here.

And now, with more and more coming out in the FinCEN Files, the release of these documents is more important than ever. Still, on October 15 Judge Woods gave more time for even the sentencing submission to be not public, pending further redaction: "Re: United States v. Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards 19-cr-00064 (GHW) Dear Judge Woods: I write to ask that the Court extend my time for filing a public version of my sentencing submission until October 23, 2020. The reason for this request is that some of the material that is cited in the submission and the accompanying exhibits is covered by the Protective Order and contains material that is “restricted or confidential” under the order or is otherwise sensitive. The parties need additional time to determine what material may be filed by ECF and what material must be filed under seal or in a redacted form. This requires the government to confer with other federal agencies. The parties are working to come to an agreement on this issue and anticipate being able to do so by October 23.  Since the government and the Court already have the full version of the sentencing submission and exhibits, granting this request need not delay sentencing. Respectfully submitted. cc: AUSA Daniel Richenthal AUSA Kimberly Ravener

Application granted. The deadline for Defendant to file a public version of her sentencing submission is extended to October 23, 2020."

On October 1 it was announced, "MEMO ENDORSEMENT as to Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards (1) granting [68] LETTER MOTION addressed to Judge Gregory H. Woods from Stephanie Carvlin dated 9/29/2020 re: modify schedule for sentencing submissions. ENDORSEMENT: Application granted. Sentencing in this matter is adjourned to November 9, 2020."

 Inner City Press entirely opposes the disappearance of these judicial documents, submitted to SDNY Judge Gregory Woods. And so on August 5, it submitted this: "I write for a second time pursuant to your July 22, 2020 order and in further support of the July 21 application for press and public access to submissions to this Court by defendant Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, that triggered a judicial conference. They are judicial documents, contrary to the July 30 opposition submitted by Edwards' counsel.   On August 4 Inner City and I emailed to your Chambers our reply. Twenty four hours later, it is not docketed. So, first, this is a formal request that our responses to Edwards' counsel's submission be docketed as hers was, as Docket No. 65.   Second, in further opposition to the withdrawal / disappearance of what Ms. Edwards submitted to this Court triggering the conference(s), since for now we cannot know of what it consisted, consider that the following is already in the public record, citing Yemen, China, Clinton, Iran: here and here

 Furthermore, even what is characterized as attorney - client is of public interest, including because after having know to be well compensated counsel from Brafman & Associates, now Ms. Edwards has taxpayer funded CJA counsel. Was she paying Brafman & Associates? Or was someone else paying?   We had hoped for docketing and ruling on the judicial documents issue without getting into the specifics of press interest, which as in FOIA litigation should not be inquired into by a court or government agency." Watch this site.

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