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On September 23, 2021, the FBI in Denver issued a statement and warrant. In this article, I’ve explained the Brian Laundrie arrest warrant, including what the charges meant and how they relate to the Gabby Petito case.
The FBI sent out a tweet about its arrest warrant:
Brian Laundrie was indicted under 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(i) “Use of Unauthorized Devices.” The warrant alleges that Brian Laundrie basically committed credit card theft on Gabby Petito’s Capital One card. The total was for about $1,000 between August 30, 2021, and September 1, 2021.
FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider stated in a now-removed tweet that “While this warrant allows law enforcement to arrest Mr. Laundrie, the FBI and our partners across the country continue to investigate the facts and circumstances of Ms. Petito’s homicide.”
In other words, they are trying to arrest Brian Laundrie on a credit card charge, when they actually want him for Gabby Petito’s homicide.
They made a movie about the Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie story: The Gabby Petito Story (affiliate link).
Brian Laundrie was charged in the United States District Court of Wyoming, which is part of the Tenth Circuit.
18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(1) states:
(1) knowingly and with intent to defraud produces, uses, or traffics in one or more counterfeit access devices;I’ll also point out 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(2):
(2) knowingly and with intent to defraud traffics in or uses one or more unauthorized access devices during any one-year period, and by such conduct obtains anything of value aggregating $1,000 or more during that period;
If my reading of this statute is correct, Brian Laundrie was charged with counterfeiting a credit card. A counterfeit means that he fabricated the card in some manner.
What he should have been charged with is 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(2), which is an unauthorized device. And of course, Gabby couldn’t authorize the use of her credit card because she deceased.If she is passed away, then who owns that credit card?
Because, technically speaking, Laundrie could have used the card with her permission, but that permission is revoked when she died. So her assets go to her next of kin, which may or may not have actually been Laundrie. But we also have a concept in the law that a murderer should not profit, such as being willed assets, from someone he or she killed.
So, the roundabout thing is this: if he was not the beneficiary of her assets upon death, the FBI could probably charge him with 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(2). If he was the beneficiary but then is convicted of her murder, then he could also probably be charged with 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(2), although that one might be up for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling because technically he was her beneficiary until he was found guilty.
If all of that made your head spin, yeah, it made mine too.
My Opinion on Brian Laundrie’s Arrest Warrant
Financial arrests are common, especially with organized crime and drug money laundering. The mobster Al Capone was found guilty of tax evasion, not whatever violent crimes he committed. In some circumstances, that’s what it takes to get the bad guy.
In this particular incident, we have no idea what happened to Gabby Petito, except that her autopsy showed that she was strangled to death. I don’t have any doubts that Brian Laundrie would have been convicted of murder, if for no other reason than because the case was a social media sensation.
The larger issue, the one that made him look bad in the eyes of the social media, was that Brian Laundrie refused to speak, about anything, upon advice from his attorney. And no matter how you feel about Brian Laundrie, that is absolutely the correct advice. Never, ever speak to the police without an attorney present. It’s your Constitutional right.
Also, get your arrest warrant correct. If I am reading it correctly (and I’m fully aware that I might not be), then the FBI charged him incorrectly.