Woman arrested on drug charges files federal suit, accuses DEA of setting up fake Facebook profile in her name

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WASHINGTON (WITI/AP) — Did the Drug Enforcement Administration set up a fake Facebook account using photographs and other personal information it took from the cell phone of a New York woman arrested in a cocaine case in the hopes of tricking her friends and associates into revealing incriminating drug secrets?

Sondra Arquiett was arrested on drug charges in 2010 for her alleged role in a suspected drug distribution network. She’s now suing a DEA agent in federal court — saying the agent used photographs from her phone, which authorities confiscated, to set up the Facebook account as a way to contact suspects in their investigation.

The Huffington Post reports the Justice Department, which initially defended the practice in court filings is now reviewing whether this went too far.

The Huffington Post says Sondra Arquiett’s Facebook profile looked as real as any other — including photos of her (even a close-up with her young son) and a message indicating that she missed her boyfriend — identifying him by his nickname.

But the account wasn’t hers. It was set up by DEA Agent Timothy Sinnigen.

Arquiett has now filed a federal lawsuit. The case was scheduled for trial next week, but a mediator has now been selected to handle the case. Arquiett is asking for $250,000 — saying she suffered fear and emotional distress.

The Huffington Post says the Justice Department has said Arquiett “implicitly consented to the Facebook page being established by granting access to the information stores in her cell phone — and by consenting to the use of that information to aid in the ongoing criminal investigation” — also saying the Facebook profile wasn’t public.

The Huffington Post says Arquiett was arrested in July 2010 on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine — accused of being part of a drug distribution ring run by her boyfriend, who was indicted.

The initial charge leveled against Arquiett could have sent her to prison for life, but she pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

The Huffington Post reports in the plea agreement, Arquiett acknowledged she was part of a drug conspiracy between 2008 and 2010.

Arquiett was sentenced to time served, and had to serve a period of home confinement, according to the Huffington Post.

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