A close friend of Jared Kushner’s who was pardoned by Kushner’s father-in-law, former President Donald Trump, is now in plea negotiations over state cyberstalking charges, Bloomberg reported Friday.
Ken Kurson, onetime editor-in-chief of Kushner’s former newspaper, The New York Observer, was facing federal charges of cyberstalking when Trump pardoned him in January.
Now Kurson is in plea negotiations over state cyberstalking charges connected to the same conduct, Assistant Manhattan District Attorney Alex Wynne revealed at a hearing Friday in New York Criminal Court in Manhattan, according to Bloomberg.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance charged Kurson in August with eavesdropping and computer trespassing. The two felonies carry a maximum of four years in prison.
“We will not accept presidential pardons as get-out-of-jail-free cards for the well-connected in New York,” Vance said at the time in a statement. Presidential pardons only apply to federal charges.
Kurson is accused of hacking into his estranged wife’s online accounts and sending threatening, harassing messages to several people during heated divorce proceedings in 2015. He allegedly occasionally monitored his ex-wife’s computer activities from his Observer office in Manhattan.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn filed similar charges against Kurson a year ago. They claimed that Kurson cyberstalked and harassed three victims because of anger over his divorce. They alleged he accessed email and social media accounts, and used aliases to file complaints against the victims with their employers.
The FBI discovered complaints about Kurson’s conduct during a background check in 2018 after the Trump administration recommended him for a position with the National Endowment for the Humanities, The New York Times reported.
Kurson withdrew his name from consideration shortly afterward.
Kurson served as the top editor of the Observer from 2013 to 2017. Kushner bought the newspaper in 2006 and transferred ownership to a family trust after Trump became president in 2017.
Another beneficiary of Trump’s pardons — his former White House strategist Steve Bannon — could also soon be facing new criminal charges.
Trump pardoned Bannon in January as he faced multiple fraud counts for allegedly stealing funds given to a charity he controlled by donors who believed they were helping to build Trump’s southern border wall.
Now Bannon is expected to be hit with criminal contempt charges for ignoring a subpoena to testify before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.