Ken Kurson, a close friend of presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner and a one-time speechwriter for Donald Trump, was arrested by FBI agents Friday on cyberstalking charges.
Federal prosecutors allege Kurson, a cryptocurrency entrepreneur who was editor-in-chief of The New York Observer when Kushner was the newspaper’s owner, “engaged in a pattern of stalking and harassment against three victims” who include a former friend he blamed for ruining his marriage. The alleged harassment reportedly occurred during Kurson’s tenure at the Observer.
According to a complaint unsealed today in Brooklyn federal court, Kurson’s alleged crimes came to light in 2018 while he was undergoing an FBI background check for an unpaid advisory role in the Trump administration that The Daily Beast first reported on.
Using the aliases “Jayden Wagner” and “Eddie Train,” the 52-year-old Kurson—who worked on Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2008—allegedly began his online revenge campaign during his 2015 divorce proceedings. The New York Times first reported Kurson’s arrest Friday.
Prosecutors say an enraged Kurson filed false complaints about his targets with their employer, including one alleging improper contact with a minor. He also showed up unannounced at their workplace—which appears to be Manhattan’s Mt. Sinai Hospital, based on previously reported details—and took photographs of his victims, left negative reviews about their professional capabilities on Yelp, hacked into their email and social media accounts, and installed a keystroke logger on at least one of their computers.
Kurson’s unnamed ex-friend tried to smooth things over, insisting in an email that he had nothing to do with breaking up Kurson and his wife, the complaint says.
“Unfortunately, you have no one to blame but yourself,” the message read. “It is a bitter pill to swallow, but true.”
In response, Kurson allegedly called the friend a “completely full of shit phony who lies through [their] teeth and is also stupid.”
“You are the biggest liar I have ever met,” Kurson allegedly wrote. “[E]verything you touch turns to shit...Please don’t ever email me again. That’s the second time I’m asking. There’s not going to be a third time. Fuck you. Forever. Got it?”
Mt. Sinai was spooked enough to hire a private security guard for the doctors’ protection and get an investigative consulting firm to look into who was harassing them anonymously.
“In November 2015, Mount Sinai began an investigation into allegations of harassment made by two of our doctors against Ken Kurson,” the hospital said in a 2018 statement about the incident to The New York Times. “We also took measures to protect our staff and the alleged harassment ceased shortly thereafter. We are cooperating with the FBI on their current background check of Mr. Kurson.”
The complaint details alleged harassment against two more people, including one person who was fired when Kurson reported false misconduct allegations to their employer. The person, who knew the ex-friend of Kurson’s, ended up getting a temporary restraining order against Kurson and moving interstate.
Separately, freelance journalist Deborah Copaken wrote a piece for The Atlantic in 2018 accusing Kurson of sexually harassing her when he was at the Observer. She said Friday that the FBI contacted her three months later during Kurson’s background check.
Kurson didn’t get the role with the National Endowment for the Humanities after the FBI started digging—although he said he withdrew from consideration due to the amount of paperwork involved in the vetting process.
Nevertheless, he appears to still have ties to the Trump administration and posted photos to his Instagram account from a September event on the White House lawn celebrating Trump’s Middle East peace deal.
William Sweeney Jr., the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, said in a statement, “The shadows of cyberspace may have provided him with some cover, but once his identity was revealed, he no longer had the benefit of a virtual retreat.”
Kurson’s lawyer, Marc Mukasey—a former law partner of Giuliani’s—waved off the charges as largely bogus.
“Ken Kurson is an honorable man, a loving dad and a gifted writer,” Mukasey said in a statement. “The conduct alleged is hardly worthy of a federal criminal prosecution. Ken will get past it.”
Kurson was arraigned in Brooklyn federal court by phone on Friday afternoon. The judge warned him not to miss any court hearings, not to commit any crimes, and not to tamper with any witnesses in the case. Kurson said he understood the instructions.
The judge then released him on a $100,000 bond and barred him from any international travel.