Police in Fort Smith Arkansas have been caught embedding malware in a collection of documents requested by the lawyer for a whistleblower reporting on misconduct in the department. Attorney Matt Campbell reports that upon the return of a drive he provided to the Fort Smith Police Department for the purpose of receiving evidence, three common pieces of spyware targeting Microsoft Windows computers were implanted into a sub folder on the drive. The spyware includes a keylogger, backdoors, and a command and control utility.
Campell is representing whistle-blower Don Paul Bales in a lawsuit against the Fort Smith Police Department for retailing against Bale's reports of illegal practices within the department concerning employee termination and payroll procedures. Arkansas State Police have declined requests by Campbell to investigate the incident claiming that any potential violations would be merely "misdemeanors" insufficient to involve their investigators. Similarly local Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney for the 12th District of Arkansas Daniel Shue has declined to investigate citing a lack of resources even though their own web page declares Shue's office is "one of the busiest Prosecuting Attorney’s offices in the state." (archived) It remains to be seen if this can be investigated and prosecuted at the Federal level.
Campell has filed an affidavit (non-pdf) seeking a determination of Criminal Contempt of Court against Fort Smith Police Chief Kevin Lindsey and other defendants for this and other misconduct handling this case which includes complains of spoilation of evidence.
The blanket refusal of other police agencies and Prosecuting Attorney Shue to even consider investigating the attempted spyware implantation of Campbell's laptop in violation of wiretapping statues and attorney client privilege suggests that such measures might be routinely carried out locally with the knowledge of the prosecuting attorney. This raises grave concerns into how many private practice attorneys in Arkansas, particularly in Sebastian County, may have had their computing infrastructure similarly compromised by police deployed malware. It also suggests a potential motivation as to why "Law Enforcement" in the United States might be willing to directly subsidize malware development as a general policy.
As always persons located in the United States are recommended to discount the possibility that "Law Enforcement" agencies are realistically constrained by the law.