A Florida woman who stole a diary and other items belonging to President Biden’s daughter before the 2020 election hoped not only to profit but also to damage Mr. Biden’s chances of winning the White House by selling the material to the conservative group Project Veritas, according to a court filing.
In a blistering sentencing memo filed in Manhattan on Wednesday, federal prosecutors said that the woman, Aimee Harris, was unrepentant and had no respect for the law, describing her conduct as “far outside of lawful political activism of any kind.”
Ms. Harris, along with Robert Kurlander, has admitted to taking part in a conspiracy to transport stolen materials from Florida, where Ms. Biden had been living, to New York, where Project Veritas is based.
“Stealing personal belongings of a candidate’s family member, and selling them to an organization to exploit them for political gain, was wrong and illegal no matter the political agenda,” the memo said.
Prosecutors have recommended a sentence of six months’ home confinement and three years of supervised release while having Ms. Harris forfeit the $20,000 that Project Veritas paid her for the diary and other materials. Mr. Kurlander, who also received $20,000 from Project Veritas, is scheduled to be sentenced next month. Each faces up to five years in prison.
The filing comes as Project Veritas appears on the verge of collapse after the departure of James O’Keefe, the right-wing provocateur who founded the group. Mr. O’Keefe was ousted after employees complained about his treatment of them and questioned his use of Project Veritas’ funds, leading the group to hire a law firm to investigate the allegations. Project Veritas is suing Mr. O’Keefe, who declined to be interviewed by the law firm.
Mr. O’Keefe’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, said he had not seen the audit and criticized Project Veritas for failing to pay his client’s legal fees and those of other employees ensnared in the federal investigation that had been prompted by their work for the group.
In an earlier tax filing, Project Veritas admitted to paying Mr. O’Keefe $20,512 in “excess benefits” in 2021, saying that charity funds had been spent to assist Mr. O’Keefe when he starred as Curly the singing cowboy in the musical “Oklahoma.”
After Mr. Keefe’s departure, the group hired Hannah Giles as chief executive. She pledged in June to keep pursuing investigations. But on Monday, Jennifer Kiyak, the group’s human resources administrator, said another wave of layoffs was necessary to preserve “the possible future existence of Project Veritas.” She added that the group would pause its operations.
The group is known for using deceptive tactics to carry out sting operations against left-wing organizations. It has also targeted reporters of The New York Times and has an ongoing defamation suit against the newspaper.
The group is also bracing to see whether federal prosecutors in Manhattan charge anybody else associated with the theft and sale of the diary and other items. As part of the inquiry, federal investigators carried out search warrants at the apartments of Mr. O’Keefe and two former Project Veritas operatives, Spencer Meads and Eric Cochran.
Project Veritas, which ultimately did not publish the contents of the diary, denies any wrongdoing.
In their latest filing, prosecutors said that Ms. Biden had been living at a friend’s house in Delray Beach, Fla., but moved out in June 2020, leaving the diary and other personal items behind, including tax records, a digital camera, a digital storage card containing private family photographs, a cellphone, books, clothing and luggage.
The owner of the house, a friend of Ms. Biden’s, said she could store the items there, prosecutors added, making clear that she did not abandon those personal belongings as Project Veritas has claimed.
Ms. Harris moved in shortly after Ms. Biden left, staying in the same room as the president’s daughter. After finding the items, Ms. Harris conspired with Mr. Kurlander to sell them, prosecutors say, taking them to a fund-raiser for President Trump in Florida on Sept. 6, 2020.
Before the event, Mr. Kurlander reminded Ms. Harris to bring the stolen property, telling her she had a “chance to make so much money.” Ms. Harris responded that she had additional items that she had not yet disclosed, adding: “I can’t wait to show you what Mama has to bring to Papa.”
But the campaign made clear it was not interested in the items and told Ms. Harris and Mr. Kurlander to go to the F.B.I. Eventually, the pair got in touch with Project Veritas, which paid for them to fly to New York days later and stay at a luxury hotel in Manhattan. Later, a Project Veritas operative, identified in the filing as “Employee 1,” instructed Ms. Harris and Mr. Kurlander to return to the Florida house to retrieve additional items.
But Mr. Kurlander demanded more money, according to prosecutors. In an exchange with the operative on an encrypted app, he stated: “We are doing everything we say we will do. It’s just not fair. We are taking huge risks. This isn’t fair.”
That operative then flew to Florida to meet the pair, taking more stolen items, according to prosecutors, and shipping them back to New York. The Times has previously reported that Mr. Meads, a confidant of Mr. O’Keefe’s, was sent to Florida to meet the pair.
In their sentencing memo, prosecutors castigated Ms. Harris. “Such criminal conduct,” they said, “does not merely hurt the victim, but seeks to undermine the political process.”