A federal judge has denied Google’s bid to quash a subpoena ordering a company record-keeper to testify next week in the federal racketeering trial of an alleged cybercrime syndicate member.
The order, filed late Thursday by U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey, lays the groundwork to force the Internet giant to answer questions about how it secures its massive email network.
The defendant in the case, alleged Carder.su member David Camez, is challenging the authenticity of some of the emails the government is using as evidence against him.
Camez, 22, of Phoenix, is facing charges of racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering. He was known within the Carder.su organization by the nicknames, “Bad Man” and “Doctorsex.”
The California-based Google filed court papers arguing it has authenticated the records the government wants to use as evidence in the case and there is no need to subject its custodian to live testimony. Company lawyers contended the subpoena is “unreasonable” and sets a bad precedent that could require Google to testify at every criminal trial in the country where its records are subpoenaed.
But Dorsey disagreed, indicating the Carder.su case is unique because it involves “sophisticated online computer activity” and both the government and the defense have a right to question Google about the trustworthiness of its records.
At a hearing earlier in the week, Camez’s lawyer Chris Rasmussen, told Dorsey that the government is alleging the Carder.su organization has some of the world’s most sophisticated hackers.
Rasmussen contends some of the emails prosecutors are submitting as evidence weren’t composed by Camez and could have been written by other Carder.su members hacking into Google’s email network.
Many of the authenticity questions will have to be answered by someone else more knowledgeable within Google about how the company secures its network.
Rasmussen has sought to subpoena a Google employee who could answer those questions.
Dorsey heard the Google request after U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon, who is presiding over the Carder.su case, disqualified himself from the matter because Google is being represented by his former law firm.
According to federal prosecutors, members of the Russian-led Carder.su organization came to together in an online marketplace to buy and sell stolen identity information and phony credit cards and driver’s licenses and learn how to carry out high-tech fraud schemes.
In 2012, prosecutors obtained four separate indictments charging 55 Carder.su members, including the group’s Russian leaders in a sweeping racketeering investigation. It was the first time the Justice Department has used federal racketeering statutes to go after a cybercrime syndicate.
Millions of Americans and numerous financial institutions were victimized by the Carder.su syndicate and its more than 7,800 members, prosecutors have alleged.
Tens of millions of dollars in financial fraud each year were attributed to the group, which found Las Vegas an ideal place to operate.
The indictments were the result of a 4½-year federal investigation, code-named “Operation Open Market,” which took off after Michael Adams, a U.S. Secret Service agent based in Las Vegas, went undercover and infiltrated the secretive organization.
Contact reporter Jeff German at email@example.com or 702-380-8135. Follow him on Twitter @JGermanRJ.