Writing this for a friend who wanted to know what I thought about Michael Flynn.
When I heard the news that Flynn was waiving indictment and pleading guilty to a single count of lying to the FBI, I didn’t need to be told that Flynn had agreed to cooperate with Mueller.
Werner was arrested in 2005 in Greenwich, Connecticut after spending a few afternoons wandering up and down Greenwich Avenue buying watches at every jewelry store.He used a different credit card at each store. None had his name on it.
A clerk high up on the avenue grew suspicious – as will happen when you ask someone to charge four very upscale timepieces to four different credit cards and ‘oh, by the way, the magnetic strips are all messed up, would you mind terribly manually inputting the numbers?’
The clerk called the Greenwich Police Department, which at the time was conveniently located on Greenwich Avenue. They arrested Werner at his car, they found twenty-eight credit and ATM cards in different names, six California driver’s licenses in various names, and dozens of credit card slips in the trunk.
When they searched his house in Westport they found over a quarter million dollars worth of watches, dozens of fake credit cards, fake driver’s licenses, a credit card making machine, several PCs, a hundred or so blank cards. And a semi-automatic .22 pistol.
The pistol was an additional charge because Werner had a prior felony record. He had been arrested by the FBI in California in 1990 and was convicted, after a trial, of bank fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, false statements, currency structuring and using a fictitious name. He was sentenced to 98 months in Federal prison.
After his release, he ran out on his federal probation in California to settle in Connecticut and ‘start over’.
Werner was facing state and federal charges. I saw all his paperwork and listened to him at length for far more than anyone should ever have to listen to a narcissist who reveled in his narcissism. I knew with utter ‘I took this class in law school’ certainty that his plea negotiations with the feds were starting in the mid-100 month range. The gun was the least of it, the names he had been buying high-end watches in had all been hacked. And, the federal probation office was somewhat displeased.
There were also state charges that were still piling up and, over all, his case was a mess that only promised to get messier and uglier over the next year or so it would take to fully investigate.
But, it didn’t go that way.
Werner was arrested in late September 2005, the matter was disposed of with a guilty plea the following February, five months is an ungodly quick turnaround on such a complicated matter. Unless.
Werner pleaded guilty to a single count – possession of a firearm by a felon. There were no other charges. He was sentenced to 27 months, he served 16, undoubtedly in a very comfortable camp.
The government got (eventually) the superhacker Max Butler, and a Wired.com editor got a bestselling book, Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground.
That’s how this always works. Since such deals are never predicated on giving up people down the chain …