Apr 192017
 

Good Friday turned out not to be a good day for Justin Shafer. The 37 year-old dental IT technician had been arrested on March 31 and charged with cyberstalking an FBI agent and the agent’s family under 18 U.S. Code § 2261A(2)(B).  On April 14, he was taken back into custody, this time for violating release conditions. Shafer’s wife contacted DataBreaches.net with a terse, “Well, he’s gone again” message.  It was becoming an all-too-common experience for her and their three young children.

On Friday, Shafer had informed DataBreaches.net that his pretrial services officer had told him that there appeared to be some problem with his ankle monitor and that he should come in to have it swapped out. According to Shafer’s wife, that was a trick to get him to come in so that they could detain him.

At a hearing yesterday, Magistrate Judge Renee H. Toliver of the Northern District of Texas ordered Shafer held for violating the conditions of his release.  No court date has yet been set for trial on the cyberstalking charges, and Shafer is currently being held at the Kaufman County Jail.

When Shafer spoke to DataBreaches.net last week, he understood that he could not go on social media or participate on peer-to-peer platforms. But what about blogging? It seems possible that this blog post by Shafer, posted on the 14th, may have been the reason his release was revoked. In that post, Shafer makes a somewhat in-your-face comment to any authorities reading the post:

No comments allowed on this blog post, and blogger is NOT social media. It IS my first amendment right. You can take my facebook and twitter, but you will NOT take away my blog.

According to Shafer’s wife, the assistant public defender attempted to argue that the blog wasn’t “social media” at yesterday’s hearing. Judge Toliver reportedly rejected that argument, noting that she had been very clear with Shafer at the April 6 hearing that his computer was only to be used for work purposes.

The court didn’t take away Shafer’s blog yesterday. They took away his freedom. And some people are not surprised at all.

Shafer’s cyberstalking charges are the only charges filed against him at this time, but since May, 2016, he has been raided three times by the FBI and arrested twice. This site’s previous coverage of Shafer’s work law enforcement’s raids can be found from this link.

Update: The docket’s been updated, and I was correct in thinking that the blog post was key to his pretrial release being revoked. From the order:

Defendant has proven that the combination of very stringent conditions of release imposed in this case are insufficient to ameliorate the threat Defendant poses to the safety of the community and, in particular, to the alleged victim of the charged offense.

In any event, the Court finds that Defendant is unlikely to abide by any condition or combination of conditions of release the Court could impose. Compelling evidence of that fact are Defendant’s own words in the subject blog post — “Not allowed to get on Twitter or Facebook etc (anything to get out of jail, right?)” — and in an email to the Pretrial Services Officer when confronted about the post — “Blogger is not social media, and anyone telling me otherwise will be violating my first amendment speech.”

The docket’s final entry was a notice that this case, 3:17-mj-257 has been terminated and merged into 3:17-cr-239-N.

  2 Responses to “Texas man charged with cyberstalking FBI agent detained without bail”

  1. This case has long past crossed into the realm of bizarro world.

    Blogger.com is NOT a social media site, it’s a web publishing platform. They are not socially collaborative articles. Are New York Times or Washington Post website articles, even if their op-ed pieces, considered “social media” too? Of course not! By this court’s reasoning, however, perhaps they should be labelled social media as well. After all, they too have social media sharing links and comment sections on their published articles.

    It’s a gross failure of the justice system to have people with the power to lock people up who do not understand this distinction.

    Furthermore, 30 seconds spent visiting his blog and just glancing at the majority of its content would indicate to anyone with half a brain that the blog is primarily used in a professional capacity for his work in Dental IT integration, support and security. Not just a little bit here and there, almost every one of his articles posted deal directly with matters revolving around dental IT, dental software, dental integration, and dental IT security.

    The blog is packed with informative articles in that professional regard, but it’s also the primary landing site for the distribution of his very popular intraoral camera software in use by many dentists all around the world. His blog is the URL link I, and many others, provide to dentists looking to purchase and install his software. By silencing Mr. Shafer’s right to use that blog, they’re not just limiting his ability to work and make money, they’re ALSO limiting people like me working within the same niche who rely on his articles, his expertise and the commentary he publishes regarding matters surrounding dental IT hardware, software and security.

    Mr. Popehat, the fellow this article links to on twitter, might want to loosen that hat of his, or perhaps just pull his head out of his ass to find a looser fit. Perhaps the pressure on his brain from the tight fit has led him to also believe that blogger.com is social media. I find his twitter commentary rather rude considering he has zero context regarding all the circumstances swirling about in this case.

  2. I’ll add in to the above comment about Justin’s blogger site. I was not aware of his most recent issues with the FBI until this week. The way I was made aware of what has happened since March 2017 was by going to his site to try to add his capture button software to another computer in the dental practice that I manage. I had sent him a facebook message Apr 17 and hadn’t heard back from him, so I went to his blog to see if he had posted anything recently. So, from my perspective, his blog is part of his business. I have read numerous posts he has made as a benefit to both the dental practice I manage and the dental IT company that I own.

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