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Former USAO Paralegal Specialist Sentenced for Witness Retaliation and Obstruction of Justice-Related Charges


On March 14, 2023, a former paralegal specialist who worked in the Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey was sentenced to 33 months of imprisonment followed by two years of supervised release for witness retaliation conspiracy, witness retaliation, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and obstruction of justice.  Tawanna Hilliard was sentenced in the Eastern District of New York.  According to the evidence presented at trial, in or about May 2018, Tyquan Hilliard, a member of a gang, and two other individuals robbed a cell phone store in Monticello, New York. Following the arrest of her son and the two other individuals, Tawanna Hilliard received discovery in her son’s robbery case, including videos of post-arrest statements made by the other two individuals who participated in the robbery. Tawanna Hilliard then discussed the videos in detail over recorded calls with her son, who was incarcerated following his arrest for the robbery, and her son asked her to post one of the videos on the internet.  The videos were subsequently posted on YouTube by a different user and received over ten thousand views before being removed from the platform. After the videos were posted on YouTube, both individuals received death threats and one reported hearing gunshots outside her home. The investigation was conducted by the OIG’s New Jersey Area office; forensics assistance was provided by the OIG’s Cyber Investigations Office.

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