FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — On August 17, a former FBI agent signed a plea agreement, admitting that he destroyed records on a computer hard drive.
A criminal information filing in the Western District of Arkansas Federal Court states that Robert Cessario “did corruptly alter, destroy, and mutilate an object, that is, a computer hard drive” in 2017. The hard drive he destroyed contained records pertaining to the federal prosecution of former Arkansas State Senator Jon Woods of Springdale.
Woods was found guilty of corruption in May 2018 and sentenced to 18 years and four months in prison. After he began serving his sentence in a Texas prison, Woods sent a letter to then-President Donald Trump volunteering to help build a proposed border wall. The names and signatures of 80 inmates volunteering were included in the letter.
The August 17 plea agreement states that Cessario was a special agent with the FBI and was “one of the primary agents investigating, and assisting in the prosecution of, defendants in United States vs. Woods, et al.”
In my capacity as a special agent and as part of the investigation, I obtained recordings from a cooperating defendant. I placed these recordings on a government computer that had been issued to me for use in conducting covert operations that would not be traceable to a government computer. I knew that these recordings pertained to the prosecution in United States vs. Woods, et al.
I took the computer to a commercial computer business and paid that company to “wipe” the computer. I personally performed another procedure to “wipe” the computer. I erased the contents of the computer hard drive knowing that the Court had ordered that the computer be submitted for a forensic examination. I did so with the intention of making the contents of the computer’s hard drive unavailable for forensic examination.
I am guilty of the violation alleged.Robert Cessario, in his August 17 plea agreement signed in Federal Court
His August 17 court appearance took less than 20 minutes. Cessario was issued a $5,000 bond and he awaits sentencing.
He faces up to 20 years in prison followed by up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.