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Figure Four Weekly (12/21/15): Hulk Hogan and Nelson Frazier Lawsuit Updates

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In a follow-up to last week, within an hour or two of this issue going to press, I was able to procure a copy of the newly-unsealed portion of the transcript from the June 24th hearing in Gawker's lawsuit against the FBI. As expected, it outlines what we discovered a month ago: That the Tampa Police Department was building a grand theft case in the original theft of the DVDs of sex videos that were stolen from Bubba Clem's office. Clem had initiated the investigation in May 2014 (about two and a half years after the DVDs were stolen) when the alleged culprit, Matt "Spiceboy" Loyd, tweeted photos of the non-Hulk Hogan DVDs at him. This then complicated Gawker's Freedom of Information Act request for the FBI's records of their investigation into Hogan being extorted using the DVDs of him with Clem's then-wife Heather Cole. It took Gawker a year to get privacy waivers from Hogan (ordered by the court), his lawyer David Houston (same), and Cole (voluntary) to get around the FBI's asserted privacy exemption, but then this created a new roadblock.

In the June 24th hearing, the issue was primarily that the FBI was asserting a law enforcement exemption to the Freedom of Information Act due to an ongoing investigation. Gawker had letters from everyone with jurisdiction saying that at the very least, they were not the target of an investigation, so they were crying foul. There was concern from the judge and Gawker that Hogan had gotten a friend in local law enforcement to open an investigation solely to block the FBI's request, so the judge was asking Kenneth Stegeby of the U.S. Attorney's office to give more details. At first, he wouldn't, saying that "At this time, the FBI has said that the law enforcement agency wants to be -- remain anonymous. They simply don't want to give away what it is." Judge Susan Bucklew, seemingly a bit taken aback, asked Stegeby if he knew the agency and if he would say who they were in an empty courtroom, and he said yes. Gawker attorney Seth Berlin objected for the record, and suggested the judge order Stegeby to answer with everyone present, but she wanted to see what he had to say first.

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