Judd Bagley, Overstock.com Bitcoin Chief, Confesses to Forgery, March 19, 2013


Judd Bagley of Overstock.com confesses to forging prescriptions for addictive drugs in Lehi, Utah, on March 19, 2103. Bagley is Overstock’s director of communications and “cryptocurrency [bitcoin] group general manager. ” He was charged with multiple felony counts and pleaded guilty to reduced charges after extensive plea bargaining.

For several years, Bagley was employed by Overstock.com CEO Patrick M. Byrne to stalk and harass reporters and critics of Byrne on Overstock’s “Deep Capture” conspiracy theory website. The material that Bagley manufactured for the site consisted almost entirely of fabrications and wild conspiracy theories. Subsequent to his arrest, Bagley was named by Byrne to head Overstock’s bitcoin operations, a sensitive position of trust.

A full description of the circumstances of his arrest, and more background on Bagley, can be found at http://garyweiss.blogspot.com/2015/03…

This video, edited to remove personal information, was obtained from the State of Utah under the Freedom of Information act. It is interesting on several levels:

1. Bitcoin has been wracked by controversy over its use as a medium for drug trafficking, money laundering, and other criminal acts. Thus Byrne’s hiring of a confessed drug addict and convicted forger — someone who could not obtain employment as a bank teller — to head a bitcoin operation, a position of extreme sensitivity, is curious to say the least.

2. His confession provides insight into the mentality of a corporate hatchet man and fabulist, and raises questions about the impact of drug addiction on his conduct over the years. As the detective points out at 53:35, “obviously this is stuff that has been going on for years.”

3. It could have relevancy in an ongoing libel action. Some months before this arrest, he, Byrne and other defendants were charged with manufacturing gross fabrications about a Canadian stock promoter on “Deep Capture.” At 55:00 Bagley says “one of the reasons I’m so close to my boss [Byrne] is that he and I have been working on this together,” in a reference to the website. These remarks could undermine Bagley’s effort to avoid liability in the lawsuit.

4. It’s a good example of a skillful police interrogation.

No recording equipment or stenographer was present. It was not necessary, because the interview was being videotaped without Bagley’s knowledge. The police were under no legal obligation to inform him his interview was being recorded. Thus the interrogation was able to take place in the guise of an informal chat.

At the beginning of the tape, Bagley jokes about police using “good cop, bad cop” methods, unaware that the police didn’t have to do that, and were instead exploiting his ignorance of the desirability of not providing incriminating statements to the police without a lawyer being present.

At 1:20, Bagley jokes about a possible hidden camera, completely unaware of the real camera pointing right at him.

At about 54:00, Bagley expresses fear about public exposure of his arrest and mugshot, which the officer says Bagley also raised on the ride to the police station. Bagley, a self-styled “citizen journalist,” was unaware that his entire record of his arrest, including the mugshot and this surreptitious video, was subject to disclosure under the Utah Freedom of Information Act.

Note the officer’s friendly demeanor as he effectively induces Bagley to incriminate himself and identify crucial evidence, no doubt making the subsequent plea bargaining much tougher for his lawyer:

At 32:00, the officer coaxes Bagley to identify himself in a surveillance photo showing him at Wal-Mart, forging a prescription in the company of his seven-year-old daughter, thus validating key evidence.

At 48:15, after Bagley tells the officer that images of forged prescriptions are contained on a thumb drive, he admits that the drive is with him. The officer ceases on this unexpected gold mine, and he induces Bagley to voluntarily surrender both that thumb drive and another one containing work-related material. No lawyer would have consented to such a disclosure at this stage.

At 1:04 and also toward the end of the video, the detective convinces Bagley to make a private phone call to his wife, which he says is preferable to making the call from the county lockup. He then steps out of the room to give an illusion of privacy, not disclosing that Bagley’s side of the conversation was being recorded by the video camera.

To prepare for any future arrests (hardly a remote possibility), Bagley might be well advised to watch a popular lecture by a law professor: “Don’t Talk to the Police.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc

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