Strange Developments in Ed Kramer Case

Can Ed Kramer’s case get any more bizarre? Yes, it can! Kramer may be the one behind bars, but now he’s also got the authorities investigating each other.

Arrested in February, Kramer appeared in court on March 26 to face charges of taking a photo of a 7-year-old boy without permission. The judge ruled there was probable cause to send his case to Superior Court, and denied bond (Atlanta’s Fox5 News, “Dragon Con co-founder to remain behind bars without bond”).  

Overshadowing that procedural news was a motion filed one day earlier by Kramer’s attorney Stephen Reba which made public for the first time that Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader had hired private investigator T.J. Ward last February to see if someone was hacking into her computer, and Ward had used Ed Kramer as his computer forensic analyst. The motion claims they not only discovered evidence of hacking, but that his nemesis District Attorney Danny Porter was the one doing the hacking. (Gwinnet Daily Post, “GBI investigating ‘unauthorized access’ of Gwinnett computer network by convicted sex offender Ed Kramer”.)

“From February 7th to 11th, 2019, various devices obtained solely for the purposes of investigation, including a device called a Wire Shark, were attached by Frank Karic, one of Ward’s forensic specialists, to Judge Schrader’s computer into the Gwinnett County Justice and Administration Center — with the Judge’s express permission,” the filing said. “…to ensure proper analysis, Ward put his computer forensic analyst, Defendant Edward E. Kramer, in charge of monitoring and analyzing the Wire Shark’s collected data.”

DA Porter apparently first learned about this as a byproduct of Kramer’s latest arrest, at which point he asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to look into charges that Kramer had “unauthorized access into the Gwinnett County (computer) network.”

…Officers, along with investigators in Porter’s office, seized Kramer’s computers and cellphone to look for the alleged photos of the boy. That’s when Porter realized Kramer had access to the county computer network.

“In the course of doing a forensic analysis of all of his computers, looking for a picture of a child, we came across data that might have been related to Judge Schrader’s computer,” Porter said. “We took it one step further and looked at the text messages off (Kramer’s) phone, and it became clear that Judge Schrader had contacted Kramer…. At that point, that’s when I called in the GBI.”

Once again, Kramer’s attorney has Porter on the defensive:

Porter — who said he doesn’t know if Schrader’s computer was ever being hacked in the first place — also told the Daily Post that during the course of his investigation, prior to calling the GBI, he “learned that she had had some technical problems but that they were handled by the county and the court IT department — said he has “no idea where she got any idea that I was hacking into her computer.”

“Of course, it’s (ridiculous) to think that I would do that,” Porter said. “I have better things to do than (monitor) what Judge Schrader has on her computer.”

Porter said he is concerned about what Kramer might have done with county computer access.

“There’s no doubt that he had access; they installed a device and they captured information off the network,” Porter said. “I don’t think the county has yet assessed the damage that could have been done, or has been done. I don’t know that there has been any, but the potential for entering in and changing records in my office or changing records at the tax office — he basically was able to obtain credentials that could have logged into any desktop in the county. … I think the possible damage is almost anything you can imagine.”

Atorney Reba is demanding Porter recuse himself from any matters involving Kramer: the District Attorney “cannot possibly still prosecute Defendant in any matter and must be recused, along with said recusal being imputed to his office.”

Porter has recused himself from the ongoing GBI investigation (only) because he might be a witness (Daily Report Online, “Gwinnett DA Porter Recuses From GBI Probe Into Judge’s Computer Hack”).

As of Thursday, area reporters did not know what Superior Court judge will be assigned to Kramer’s case.

[Thanks to Nancy Collins for the story.]

18 thoughts on “Strange Developments in Ed Kramer Case

  1. From what I remember about that part of the Atlanta metro, most of the people in this story are likely to deserve each other. I don’t recognize any of those officials, but the county has a bit of a reputation. I had that thought when this story first appeared, but didn’t feel like saying anything that might help Kramer. But after this? It’s the Crazy Years.

  2. . . . a device called a Wire Shark . . .

    Okay, I had to cringe. Wireshark (one word) is a piece of software that’s trivial to acquire and install on just about any host; it would be a standard tool in any forensic investigation. Calling it a “device” that’s being “attached” to a machine is kind of misleading.

    At least the court filing seems to have gotten its function more or less correct. Wireshark is certainly something one might install to help monitor network traffic, and so spot any extraneous or malicious packets that are moving in or out.

    I guess the lesson here is that attorneys making court filings don’t necessarily know the first thing about cyber. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, I suppose.

  3. I don’t know what the hell is up with this judge, who *knew* who Kramer was because she recused herself from his case a few years back, save that she appears to have suffered a stroke at one time, which might explain a few things. But I suspect she’s going to be asked to step down from the bench. With incompetents like her, no wonder it’s taking so long to send him to prison.

  4. @Jon F. Zeigler, you ninja’d me on the wireshark gaffe, curse you. ;->

    I’m reminded of my father’s comment about articles and movies concerning his profession: He was a captain for Pan American World Airways, which seemed like a good idea at the time, and commented that he eschewed all movies and popular-press articles about the airline industry, because they so very reliably got crucial things wrong.

    Half a century further on, as a senior sysadmin reading just about anything in the press about IT, I take Dad’s point.

  5. District Attorney Danny Porter talks about the threat model inherent in Kramer having been permitted to run wireshark on Judge Kathryn Schrader’s computer on the county courthouse’s local area network:

    [He has concerns about] the potential for entering in and changing records in my office or changing records at the tax office — [Kramer] basically was able to obtain credentials that could have logged into any desktop in the county.

    In a direct sense, wireshark’s logged data would have included any authentication tokens Judge Schrader’s software sent across the LAN in whatever state the software sent it. Here in 2019, one might hope those tokens for anything significant would involve competent authentication methods so that passwords themselves are never sent, but of course bad design remains common. Of greater concern, running wireshark at all required Kramer to have full superuser (e.g., MS-Windows local administrator) access on Judge Schrader’s computer, which is obviously the monarch of the kingdom of bad ideas, implicitly giving Kramer access to everything the judge did on her machine. (If the computer is at Judge Schrader’s home and connects to the county network over VPN, same thing, really.)

  6. @Nancy

    I don’t know what the hell is up with this judge, who *knew* who Kramer was because she recused herself from his case a few years back

    I’m not sure that the judge had any idea that Kramer was anywhere near this case until just now-ish; she hired the P.I. who then outsourced the computer stuff to Kramer, right?

    That’s the part that really pulls me up short: What the hell was that P.I. thinking, letting Ed Kramer loose on computers of the court system of Gwinnett County? I mean, whatever one thinks of hiring Ed to do computer forensic work from home, hiring him to do that on the computer systems of the Gwinnett County Court is simply inexcusable.

    GBI is gonna have fun untangling this one.

  7. I was also going to post about wireshark, but I’ve been thoroughly beaten to the punch.

    Aside from that…wow! Sorry, but this author is not-so-great. The plot is both hard to follow and too contrived. I’m unable to maintain the necessary suspension of disbelief!

    I mean, you might as well try to convince me that Florida is real. 😀

  8. Ray Radlein What the hell was that P.I. thinking, letting Ed Kramer loose on computers of the court system of Gwinnett County?

    When Ed Kramer sued the producers of “The Disappearance of Natalie Holloway,” the defendants linked Kramer and PI Ward in their answer —

    He [Kramer] wasn’t “named as a writer, screenwriter, or co-creator,” they said, and was working as an “employee or agent of T.J. Ward,” a private investigator who appeared on the series with Holloway’s father, Dave Holloway.

    So it looks like they have a history of working together.

    (See the Pixel Scroll for 10/17/17, item #3.)

  9. So it looks like they have a history of working together.

    Yeah, I got that he’s worked with the P.I. before, but letting him do the work on this particular job was just literally indefensible.

    I mean, want him to investigate a small office’s computers to see if the bookkeeper is skimming funds? Fine. Want him to help ID who sent a threatening e-mail? Great. Knock yourself out. But to let him root around the computers of the court system that put him in jail? That’s sheer malpractice.

    After all, what would happen if he came back and said, “Well, the results of my forensic investigation are that the DA who put me away is a criminal who committed criminal crimes”? Who would believe those results?

    OH WAIT THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT HE FOUND, ISN’T IT

    For every other aspect of this clusterfuck there exists at least the possibility of an innocent mistake or honest explanation: Maybe the judge really did think someone was messing around with her computers and didn’t trust the GBI for some reason; maybe the DA did it, or didn’t do it, or had some good reason to do whatever; and maybe Ed did sterling forensic work — but there is just absolutely no good reason for the P.I. to have turned this specific case over to Ed Kramer in the first place.

  10. @ Ray Radlein

    Recent news proves that not only did the judge know about Kramer, but that she was in phone contact with him. She genuinely seems to be more than a little insane. She currently is being asked to recuse herself following making false statements and recording the DA during a meeting without his permission or knowledge. She’s headed toward disbarment and being taken off the bench.

    https://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/local/gwinnett-da-files-motion-for-superior-court-judge-to-recuse/article_16be0722-525b-11e9-a3f2-43dceca4a9b3.html?fbclid=IwAR1VDcsh5xExvlh1PADJIe-LDBxUUntXcm40k0TwNwPWRC8usgczfvFryD8

  11. @Nancy A Collins

    Oh, geez. Well, I guess we can add a “What the hell was she thinking?” to the P.I.’s “What the hell was he thinking?”

    Like I said, the GBI is gonna have a field day trying to untangle this.

  12. @Nancy A Collins:

    Recent news proves that not only did the judge know about Kramer, but that she was in phone contact with him. She genuinely seems to be more than a little insane.

    And thus is now qualified for the Alex Jones show!

  13. and he is out of jail under “house arrest” using his usual tricks….

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