FBI Allegedly Found Child Sexual Abuse Material When It Searched Josh Schulte’s Discovery Laptop

For the past several weeks — since his attorney, Sabrina Shroff, filed a letter on September 28 asking why he hadn’t been delivered to the SCIF as expected on September 26 — there has been something weird going on in the docket for Josh Schulte — who in July was convicted of stealing and leaking the CIA’s hacking tools to Wikileaks. She noted there was a probable request that he be withheld from the SCIF in the docket and wanted access to it. Today, the government unsealed three filings explaining what happened: They allegedly caught Schulte with Child Sexual Abuse Material again. Almost four years to the day after he was found using contraband phones in MCC, the government did another search of his cell to figure out whether and how he got the CSAM (which probably came from his discovery pertaining to the files allegedly on his home computer in 2017).

The filings are:

What happened is this:

July 27: The government obtained a warrant for Schulte’s discovery laptop covering contempt and contraband with search run by filter AUSA.

As the Court is aware, on July 27, 2022, United States Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak of the Eastern District of New York signed a warrant authorizing the seizure and search of the laptop previously provided to the defendant for his use in the Bureau of Prisons for reviewing unclassified discovery and preparing litigation materials in this case (the “Laptop Warrant”), which was at that time located at the Metropolitan Detention Center (“MDC”) in Brooklyn, New York. Pursuant to the terms of the Laptop Warrant, the initial search and review of the contents of the defendant’s laptop for evidence of the subject offenses set forth therein, specifically violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 401(3) (contempt of court) and 1791(a) (possessing contraband in a correctional facility), is being conducted by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) who are not part of the prosecution team, supervised by an Assistant U.S. Attorney who is also not part of the prosecution team and is experienced in privilege matters (the “Wall Team”), to segregate out any potentially privileged documents or data.

August 26: The FBI discovered an extra thumb drive in the SCIF.

On or about August 26, 2022, Schulte was produced to the Courthouse SCIF and, during that visit, asked to view the hard drive containing the Home CSAM Files from the Home Desktop. The hard drive was provided to Schulte and afterwards re-secured in the dedicated safe in the SCIF. The FBI advised the undersigned that, while securing the hard drive containing the Home CSAM Files, they observed that an unauthorized thumb drive (the “Thumb Drive”) was connected to the SCIF laptop used by Schulte and his counsel to review that hard drive containing the Home CSAM Files. On or about September 8, 2022, at the Government’s request, the CISO retrieved the hard drive containing materials from the Home Desktop from the SCIF and returned it to the FBI so that it could be handled pursuant to the normal procedures applicable to child sexual abuse materials. The CISO inquired about what should be done with the Thumb Drive, which remained in the dedicated SCIF safe. The Government requested that the Thumb Drive remain secured in the SCIF while the Government completed its review of the defendant’s laptop and continued to investigate the defendant’s potentially unauthorized activities.

September 22: FBI discovers “a substantial amount” of suspected CSAM on his discovery laptop with review run by a second AUSA.

[O]n September 22, 2022, the Wall Team contacted one of the FBI case agents handling this matter to inform him that, during the Wall Team’s review of the defendant’s MDC laptop, they had discovered a substantial amount of what appeared to be child sexual abuse materials (the “Laptop CSAM Files”) and to request guidance about how to proceed.


[A]nother Assistant U.S. Attorney was assigned to the Wall Team at the request of the undersigned to be able to review the material and assist in obtaining that additional warrant, which this Court issued on September 23, 2022 (the “CSAM Expansion Warrant”).

October 5: FBI executes a search on Schulte’s cell, the SCIF, and electronics in the SCIF.

One warrant, which was issued on October 4, 2022 by United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy of the Eastern District of New York, authorized the search of the defendant’s cell at the MDC and the seizure of certain materials contained therein, including electronic devices (the “MDC Cell Warrant”). The second warrant, which was also issued on October 4, 2022 by this Court, authorized the seizure and search of three specified electronic devices previously used by the defendant in the Courthouse Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (“SCIF”) in connection with his review of CSAM obtained from the defendant’s home computer equipment and produced in discovery for review in the SCIF (the “CSAM Devices Warrant”). Both the MDC Cell Warrant and the CSAM Devices Warrant contain substantially the same procedures as the CSAM Expansion Warrant for initial review of the seized materials by the Wall Team. Both warrants were executed by the FBI on October 5, 2022.

DOJ is still investigating the discovery laptop for both the contraband and the CSAM. But they’re ready to give Schulte a typewriter so he can write his post-trial motions.

As the Government previously informed defense counsel and the Court, the Government cannot at this point consent to providing the defendant with a replacement laptop under any conditions (D.E. 950), in light of both his convictions of a variety of computer-related offenses and the additional evidence of his misconduct with regard to the previous MDC laptop that was seized. The Government has conferred with legal counsel at the MDC to request that the defendant have access to a typewriter for purposes of drafting these post-trial motions, similar to that available to inmates in general population. MDC legal counsel has indicated that this would likely be possible, subject to approval from the senior management of the MDC.

21 replies
  1. ExRacerX says:

    How low the once-mighty typewriter has fallen. ; )

    [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. /~Rayne]

    • Silly but True says:

      If someone were doing a modern update of Dostoyevsky, you could hardly and fictionally contrive any better character than Schulte.

  2. Elvishasleftthebuilding says:

    I really do miss my first typewriter. Everything I did – I wrote a first draft and then retyped the whole thing again on onion skin paper. I think my work was a lot better than it is these days in the computer based world that I’ve been totally living in since at least 1986 (first job out of college, I had a typewriter, not a computer). These days, I’m not even sure that our office has a typewriter.

    • P J Evans says:

      I still have one, though it’s in my storage unit. (It’s electric, if not electronic. I think I miss the previous one a bit – it was an Olivetti with a type element.)

    • J R in WV says:

      We have my grandfather’s Oliver typewriter from long ago. In about 1922 he borrowed $100 from each of 22 friends (I also have that handwritten note) and used it to buy a weekly newspaper in my hometown. $100 was a lot of money in 1922~!

      That turned into a daily paper, then an AM and a PM paper, one Republican and one Democratic. That way they both got the legal ads the local government ran. I learned to run a Linotype machine before they went computerized Cold Type, interesting to know a long dead trade like that.

      The family sold out in the late 1970s, but I got the founding typewriter. Kinda dusty now.

      • John Paul Jones says:

        You might be interested in the last few minutes of Spielberg’s The Post, which features stories being set on a Linotron machine, with gorgeous close-ups of the type dropping into place (if I am remembering the shot sequence correctly). The special features on the blu-ray tell us that they went a long way to try and find a machine which could still be operated, or at least, look like it was being operated. Fascinating, and amazing how fast things change. When I was studying at Warwick in the early 1980s, I remember looking at a copy of The Guardian and seeing faint box shapes around some of the letters, meaning that they were still casting type for each edition where in North America, many papers had already switched to electronic / film setting.

        • netjunki says:

          There’s a fantastic Paddy Chayefsky teleplay called Printer’s Measure from 1953 about the transition from manual typesetting to the use of a Linotype machine. I had to track down a copy of a book of Chayefsky’s collected teleplays to read the whole thing and I’ve still yet to track down a recording (supposedly one exists) but it’s from the very early days of television and quite hard to find. If you don’t know Paddy Chayefsky off the top of your head he was the screenwriter behind Network (1976) and Marty (1955) (which actually began life as a teleplay in the same programming block as the Printer’s Measure).

          Some quick links for anyone who wants to follow up:
          * Paddy Chayefsky – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paddy_Chayefsky
          * Printer’s Measure in Television Plays – https://archive.org/details/televisionplays00chay/page/40

          [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. This is your second user name. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • BroD_in_Balto says:

      A typewriter was useless for me unless I had gallons for White Out handy. Then, I discovered backspace in the bowels of some new administrative software my university adopted–that was life changing!

  3. Tech Support says:

    Isaac Asimov’s typewriter is currently on display at MoPop (formerly the Experience Music Project) in Seattle.

    • Leading Edge Boomer says:

      Cormac McCarthy donated his typewriter to the Santa Fe Institute, where he was a resident author, to be sold in their benefit auction.

  4. Ginevra diBenci says:

    I hope that “Home CSAM” is not something people are allowed to possess just because it’s at “Home,” a word that has been fetishized by the family values/Castle Doctrine crowd past the point where it’s poisoned popular culture.

  5. J R in WV says:

    I think they are just using that term (Home CSAM) to differentiate between various sets of CSAM found in this investigation. Some from Home, some from the Jail Laptop, some in the SCIF system, etc…

    Where did that thumb drive come from, anyways? Aren’t SCIFs supposed to be really tightly secured? Not so much, huh? How stupid do you have to be to mess with that kind of digital contraband in a Federal facility? So many questions!

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      I’m sure you are right, JR. I just thought its usage here (instead of, say, “residence”) sounded odd.

  6. John Paul Jones says:

    Man oh man, typewriters! My first one was gifted me by my mother’s boyfriend (she recently divorced), who was the head of our local communist party. He had gotten it in the 1930s, when he was a union guy. I don’t remember whether it was a Remington or a Royal, but it was a portable that came in a black box, wooden, but covered with some kind of fabric that looked like leather. I did all my first two years of college on that machine. I never did quite get accurate about placing footnotes at the bottom of the page without having the paper get rolled out. Probably they will give Schulte an electric of some sort.

    Apparently Tom Hanks loves typewriters, and has a large collection.

  7. pseudo42 says:

    During recent years I used one in the workplace to address letters and to fill in forms that needed to be submitted on paper. But since the pandemic started 2 1/2 years ago I’ve worked at home and no longer have access.

    In an HBR interview less than a year ago, Danielle Steel stated she still relies on one. https://hbr.org/2021/11/lifes-work-an-interview-with-danielle-steel Likewise there’s an older fellow across the street from me who never learned to use a computer and he continues to use a typewriter to write fiction. I think there’s one repair technician still working in my region.

    • Greg Hunter says:

      In the summers of 1981 and 1982 I worked for a office supply company. I worked with another guy and we picked up every electric and non-electric typewriter (Olivetti) from virtually every school district around the Dayton area. Our job was to steam clean, “repair”, oil and then return them to the typewriter classes.

      Every repair was completed with either a spring from a ball point pen or a paper clip.

      I had learned to type on an one of these Olivetti’s but by this point I had a Compaq 64 and a non dot matrix printer. Interesting inflection point and fascinating to learn the history of IBM (I been misled), Triumph-Adler and other makers of the office machines.

      • P J Evans says:

        In 1978 I worked at an electronics place. We made labels for the parts we sent out…on an IBM Executive. (Electric typer with *three* space bars, because monospacing wasn’t good enough. It used quarter-inch-wide film ribbon that ran between big reels on the sides of the machine.)

    • FLwolverine says:

      I learned to type on an old Underwood or Remington portable that my mother had since god knows when – probably around 1940. Then I received a little portable (no idea what brand) that used in high school and college. I encountered my first electric typewriter – IBM Selectric) in 1967 or 1968. I earned money for a couple of years by typing other people’s papers. In my jobs between college and law school, one of the best “perks” was to have a bookkeeper’s typewriter: a selectric with an extra wide carridge and a special number key row that included a decimal point and comma – so you didn’t have to move your hands off that row when typing numbers.

  8. rip no longer says:

    “But they’re ready to give Schulte a typewriter so he can write his post-trial motions.”

    I’m sure this guy can figure out how to connect an old Remington to the internet just using his brain waves. (Much like his comrade can declassify documents.)

    [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. /~Rayne]

  9. Krisy Gosney says:

    I guess I’m woefully out of date with this guy that I’m surprised the story’s takeaway about his possession of child pornography is the typewriter. Is Schulte also a pedophile? Will he be prosecuted for possession of child pornography too? (So many with a certain political worldview cry ‘pedophile’ and ‘groomer’ so easily that by the law of projection it can be somewhat safely assumed they are projecting what is going on in their own heads (and bedrooms and computers).)

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