Natalie Mayflower Edwards
Source: Alexandria Sheriff’s Office
A former U.S. Treasury official pleaded guilty Monday in a case where she was accused of leaking highly confidential documents about suspicious financial transactions of ex-Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort and others to reporters at BuzzFeed News.
The official, Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, leaked so-called suspicious activity reports, or SARS, about Manafort, his business associate and fellow Trump campaign official Rick Gates, Russian agent Maria Butina, the Russian Embassy in Moscow and a suspected Russian money-laundering entity starting in Octobert 2017 and continued doing so for the next year, prosecutors have said.
Edwards, 41, pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to make unaauthorized disclosures of SARS during an appearance in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, a week before she was scheduled to go on trial. She is due to be scheduled June 9, and faces a maxmium possible sentence of five years in prison.
Edwards, a resident of Quinton, Virginia, had “hundreds of electronic communications” with a reporter, “many via an encrypted application,” according to a criminal complaint filed against her in October 2018.
After Edwards began leaking the documents, the journalist wrote articles which mentioned the details of those reports, the complaint said.
When Edwards was arrested, prosecutors said she “was in possession of a flash drive” that appeared to be the same device “on which she saved the unlawfully disclosed” SARs.
Also in her possession was “a cellphone containing numerous communications over an encrypted application in which she transmitted [SARS] and other sensitive government information” illegally, prosecutors said.
“When questioned by law enforcement officials [Tuesday], Edwards confessed she has provided [SARS] to [the reporter] via an encrypted application, though falsely denied knowing that [the reporter] intended to or did publish that information” through a news organization, the complaint said.
Manafort is serving prison sentence of slighly more than seven years in connection with crimes related to money he earned from consulting work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukaine.
Gates last month was sentenced to 45 days in jail for conspiracy and making a false statement.