Woman who stole and sold Ashley Biden diary sentenced to month in jail and home detention

Ashley Biden speaks alongside her father US President Joe Biden during a Juneteenth concert on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, June 13, 2023. 

Samuel Corum | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A Florida woman who stole and then sold a diary and other items belonging to Ashley Biden — the daughter of President Joe Biden — to a right-wing media group weeks before the 2020 election was sentenced Tuesday to one month in federal jail and three months of home detention.

Aimee Harris, 41, also was ordered to forfeit $20,000 and to serve three years of probation at her sentencing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where a lawyer for Ashley Biden was in the audience.

Before Harris was sentenced, assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Sobelman told Judge Laura Taylor Swain that Harris had shown a “pattern of disrespect for the law and the justice system,” and was motivated to steal Ashley Biden’s property “to make as much money as she could,” and to harm President Biden politically, The Associated Press reported.

“She wanted to damage Ms. Biden’s father,” Sobelman said, the AP reported.

Prosecutors had asked that Harris be sentenced to between four to 10 months in jail, as recommended by federal sentencing guidelines.

The Palm Beach resident, whose sentencing was postponed about a dozen times at her request, in turn asked Swain to sentence her to probation, with no time in jail.

Although Swain gave Harris a lighter sentence than prosecutors wanted, she called Harris’ conduct “despicable,” according to the AP.

The judge pointed out that Harris initially had tried to sell Ashley Biden’s items to the campaign of then-President Donald Trump.

“I do not believe I am above the law,” Harris said, the AP reported. “I’m a survivor of long-term domestic abuse and sexual trauma.”

Harris pleaded guilty in August 2022 to conspiring with 60-year-old Robert Kurlander, in September 2020 to steal Ashley’s possessions from a Delray, Florida, home where Ashley previously lived and transporting them over state lines for sale.

Nicholas Biase, a spokesman for the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted Harris, declined to comment. Harris’ attorney Anthony Cecutti declined to comment to CNBC, but in court had told the judge that his client “carries the shame and stigma for her actions,” the AP reported.

Harris, who temporarily stayed at the Delray residence after Ashley vacated it, discovered the diary, which had “highly personal entries,” as well as a digital storage card that the president’s daughter had left behind, according to court records.

The provocative right-wing group Project Veritas later paid Harris and the Jupiter, Florida, resident Kurlander $20,000 apiece for the items, according to court records.

Kurlander, who pleaded guilty at the same time as Harris did, currently is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 25 by Swain.

Harris’ sentencing comes more than three months after a federal judge ruled that prosecutors could receive documents seized by the FBI with search warrants executed at the homes of Project Veritas’ then-CEO James O’Keefe and two other members of the group in November 2021 in connection with a criminal investigation of the diary theft.

Judge Analisa Torres ruled that prosecutors could get documents seized in connection with those warrants that were not protected by attorney-client privilege.

Torres’ order in late December notes that prosecutors claim that Harris and Kurlander were paid by Project Veritas to travel to New York to hand over Ashley Biden’s journal to the group.

“There, Harris allegedly revealed that the Victim had additional items in the Florida residence, and, ‘at Project Veritas’s request,’ she and Kurlander returned to Florida to retrieve them,” Torres wrote, citing the claims by prosecutors.

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“The Government alleges that they stole additional items from the Victim and gave them to a Project Veritas employee in Florida, who transported the items to New York.”

Torres in her order endorsed the finding of a so-called special master, who was appointed to review the documents, that Project Veritas and O’Keefe were not entitled to journalistic privilege in shielding the documents from prosecutors’ eyes.

A lawyer for O’Keefe did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Neither O’Keefe nor anyone else connected to Project Veritas has been charged in connection with the diary.

O’Keefe, in a statement issued after the FBI searches, said that his organization had been approached by people offering it the Biden diary, but that the group decided not to publish its contents and later turned the diary over to law enforcement when Ashley’s lawyer refused to accept it.

“At the end of the day, we made the ethical decision that because, in part, we could not determine if the diary was real, if the diary in fact belonged to Ashley Biden, or if the contents of the diary occurred, we could not publish the diary and any part thereof,” O’Keefe said at the time.

O’Keefe was removed as Project Veritas’ chief in February 2023.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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