When a government document mysteriously appeared this week in one of the most prominent federal court cases, it bore the hallmarks of another explosive storyline in the Biden administration’s investigation of former President Donald Trump in the wake of the FBI raid on his Florida estate and seizure of what the Department of Justice described as classified records.
The memo appeared to be from the U.S. Treasury Department, claimed the agency had taken sensitive information relating to last month’s FBI search at Mar-a-Lago, and included an order for CNN to safeguard “leaked tax records.”
The paper stayed on the court docket until late Thursday, but there is a problem: it is a blatant forgery.
The paper may have come from a serial forger incarcerated in a federal prison complex in North Carolina, according to an Associated Press review of hundreds of court records and interviews.
The event also implies that the court clerk was easily duped into believing that the paper was authentic, resulting in the document being placed on the public docket for the Mar-a-Lago search warrant case.
It also illustrates the fragility of the U.S. judicial system and raises doubts regarding the court’s review of purportedly official papers.
The document originally surfaced on the court’s docket late on Monday afternoon, labeled “MOTION to Intervene by U.S. Department of the Treasury.”
The document, sprinkled with spelling and syntax errors, read, “The U.S. Department of Treasury through the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Marshals Service have arrested Seized Federal Securities containing sensitive documents which are subject to the Defendant Sealed Search Warrant by the F.B.I. arrest.”
It referenced a federal legislation regarding the collection of financial information during federal investigations. The document also contained two purported warrants, one delivered to CNN in Atlanta and the other to a towing firm in Michigan.
These purported warrants, however, are similar to documents filed in another lawsuit brought by a prisoner at the North Carolina prison medical facility in Butner in federal court in Georgia. The complaint was dismissed, as were the man’s numerous previous bogus claims filed from his jail cell.
Since he was deemed unable to stand trial after being arrested for placing a false explosion outside the Guardian Building, a Detroit skyscraper, he has been detained for several years.
A study of court documents reveals that he has filed many lawsuits and impersonated the Treasury Department, a federal trustee, and a Justice Department attorney during his detention.
In the Georgia case, the man alleged that Trump and others had “acquired ‘millions of unredacted classified tax returns and other sensitive financial data, bank records and accounts of banking and tax transactions of several million’ Americans and federal government agencies,” court documents say.
The judge in that case called his lawsuit “fanatic” and “delusional,” saying there was no way to “discern any cognizable claim” from the incoherent filings.
The man has repeatedly impersonated federal officials in court records and has placed tax liens on judges using his false paperwork, two people familiar with the matter told the AP. Because of his history as a forger, his mail is supposed to be subjected to additional scrutiny from the Bureau of Prisons.
It’s unclear how the documents — the fake motion and the phony warrants — ended up at the court clerk’s office at the courthouse in West Palm Beach, Florida.
A photocopy of an envelope, included in the filing, shows it was sent to the court with a printed return address of the Treasury Department’s headquarters in Washington. But a postmark shows a Michigan ZIP Code, and a tracking number on the envelope shows it was mailed Sept. 9 from Clinton Township, Michigan, the inmate’s hometown.
The AP is not identifying the inmate by name because he has a documented history of mental illness and has not been charged with a crime related to the filing.
“There is simply nothing indicating that he has any authorization to act on behalf of the United States,” the judge in the Georgia case wrote.
But despite the clear warning signs — including a stamp noting the Georgia case number on the phony warrants — the filing still made its way onto the docket.
Representatives of the Biden administration’s Justice Department and the Treasury Department would not comment. They declined to answer on the record when asked if the document was false and why the government had not addressed it.
Representatives in the court clerk’s office and the magistrate judge overseeing the search warrant case did not respond to requests for comment.