Criminal Justice

Former paralegal at US attorney's office accused of using prosecutor info to expose informants

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A paralegal in the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey has been indicted for allegedly using government information to identify informants and help her gang member son.

Tawanna Hilliard of Brooklyn pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that include witness tampering, obstruction of justice and conspiracy, reports. She was released on $75,000 bond with electronic monitoring. The Washington Post and the New York Daily News also have coverage.

Hilliard, 44, had worked in the office’s civil division for nine years. She is accused of accessing government computers to identify and expose cooperating witnesses providing evidence against the 5-9 Brims street gang, according to the government bond memo. She allegedly conducted the searches in 2016 at the behest of a gang member and then told her imprisoned son about it in recorded phone calls, according to the indictment.

In one of the calls, Hilliard said she had come to the conclusion that the gang member seeking snitch searches was “really trying to jam” up her son. She gave her son the spelling of the gang member’s name and the general location of his physical address using information from government computers, prosecutors allege. Hilliard and her son allegedly discussed possible ways to harm the gang member and who would be willing to “do something” to him.

She is also accused of telling friends that her son had no defense to a pending robbery charge because his co-defendant “told everything.” She allegedly discussed the situation with her son and, at his urging, she posted a video of the co-defendant’s statement to police on YouTube, prosecutors say. The video was part of the discovery material in the case.

Hilliard allegedly titled the video, “NYC Brim Gang Member Snitching Pt. 1.”

Hilliard’s son, Tyquan Hilliard, was convicted on the robbery charge and is serving a 10-year prison term. He is also charged with conspiracy, witness tampering and obstruction of justice in the new indictment against his mother.

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