James O’Keefe, who posed as a pimp for undercover sting videos that badly damaged the credibility of ACORN, has been arrested for apparently trying to pull a sting on the office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).
FBI Special Agent Steven Rayes alleges that O’Keefe aided and abbetted two others, Joseph Basel and Robert Flanagan, who dressed up as employees of a telephone company and attempted to interfere with the office’s telephone system.
A fourth person, Stan Dai, was accused of aiding and abetting Basel and Flanagan. All four were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.
O’Keefe had become a conservative media star since the ACORN sting. I just talked to Lisa De Pasquale, director of CPAC, who said that O’Keefe, along with co-stinger Hannah Giles and Andrew Breitbart, is (or was) under consideration for the annual conservative conference’s coveted Reagan Award.
Mike Flynn, the editor of Big Government–where the ACORN videos originally appeared–told me that the conservative news site had no knowledge of what O’Keefe was up to.
“We had absolutely no clue what he was up to,” said Flynn, “and now you see why! It’s a complete surprise to us. We’ll just see what happens.”
UPDATE: The FBI’s press release on the case:
Four Men Arrested for Entering Government Property Under False Pretenses for the Purpose of Committing a Felony
NEW ORLEANS—JOSEPH BASEL, age 24; ROBERT FLANAGAN, age 24; JAMES O’KEEFE, age 25; and STAN DAI, age 24, were charged in a criminal complaint with entering federal property under false pretenses for the purpose of committing a felony, announced the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
According to the complaint, which was unsealed earlier today, the arrest of FLANAGAN, BASEL, O’KEEFE, and DAI took place after BASEL and O’KEEFE attempted to gain access to the New Orleans office of United States Senator Mary Landrieu on January 25, 2010, while posing as telephone repairmen. According to the complaint, FLANAGAN and BASEL were each dressed in blue denim pants, blue work shirts, light green fluorescent vests, tool belts, and construction-style hard hats when they entered the Hale Boggs Federal Building, located at 500 Poydras Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130. Once in the building, FLANAGAN and BASEL sought access to the offices of Senator Landrieu. O’KEEFE was already present in the office, holding a cellular phone so as to record FLANAGAN and BASEL. Once inside Senator Landrieu’s reception area, FLANAGAN and BASEL told a member of Senator Landrieu’s staff that they were telephone repairmen, and they requested access to the main telephone at the reception desk. FLANAGAN and BASEL then manipulated the telephone system. FLANAGAN and BASEL next requested access to the telephone closet because they needed to perform work on the main telephone system. They were directed to the main office of the United States General Services Administration, also inside the Hale Boggs Federal Building, where they again represented themselves to be employees of the telephone company and stated that they needed to perform repair work in the telephone closet. Both FLANAGAN and BASEL stated that they had left their credentials in their vehicle. In addition, the complaint alleges that O’KEEFE and DAI assisted FLANAGAN and BASEL in the planning, coordination, and preparation of the operation. The men were apprehended by the United States Marshal’s Service soon thereafter.
If convicted, FLANAGAN, BASEL, O’KEEFE, and DAI each face a maximum term of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and three (3) years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment.
The United States Attorney’s Office reiterated that the complaint is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
The investigation is being conducted by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Deputy Marshals with the United States Marshal’s Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg.