Facebook and IMs Provide Key Evidence to Prosecutors in Criminal Cases

Two recent events demonstrate how prosecutors are increasingly turning to other forms of electronic information to construct their cases. First, Francisco R. Legaspi, now 61, who had been a fugitive for the past 22 years, was sentenced on Monday to 21 months’ imprisonment after the government located him this year in Canada after finding him through his Facebook page. Mr. Legaspi had been indicted in August 1992 on three counts of assisting in the preparation of false tax returns for allegedly having submitted false quarterly Forms 941 for Mission Childcare Consortium, Inc., a San Francisco day care center, in 1988 and 1989. He pleaded guilty to one count in November 1992 but did not appear for his sentencing in January 1993, and he was thereafter indicted for failing to appear, to which he also pleaded guilty this year.

In addition, the New York Times reported yesterday that the Justice Department is investigating a number of foreign and American banks for having colluded to influence the price of foreign currencies and is specifically aiming to indict individual bank employees, in addition to seeking guilty pleas from the banks themselves. The key evidence that is allegedly being utilized to incriminate those individual bank employees is their instant messages. (Protess, Ben and Silver-Greenberg, Jessica, Big Banks Face Another Round of U.S. Charges, The New York Times).