NEW ORLEANS–Four men were arrested Monday for entering government property under false pretenses and an alleged plot to wiretap a Louisiana senator‘s office.
Joseph Basel, 24; Robert Flanagan, 24; James O’Keefe, 25; and Stan Dai, 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 Tuesday, 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 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. 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 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.