Corbia Under Continued Scrutiny: Leaf Under Arrest
Tom Corbia Richard Leaf
By Dan Murphy
The news that two, well-known Westchester residents have used as their excuse, for sharing a racist post on Facebook, and a more serious charge of possessing Child Pornograph, that “I was hacked,” had us searching for an expert who has experience in these types of investigations.
72 year old Somers resident, Richard Leaf, was arrested by the FBI on Feb. 23 and charged with receiving and possessing videos and images containing child pornography. Leaf is alleged, according to the complaint, of posing as a teenager named “Alex Bronson” to communicate on Skype with a minor who Leaf believed was a 15 years old boy.
During the course of these communications, the minor sent Leaf a video of himself masturbating in the shower and a fully nude photo of himself in a bedroom. In addition, law enforcement officers uncovered almost a dozen images and videos containing child pornography on Leaf’s home computer.
The Complaint further alleges that Leaf created a dozen fictitious accounts on Chat Avenue, an online chatroom website, and Skype to communicate with minors. The usernames of some of LEAF’s fictitious accounts include: alex Bronson, sportsboi.15, alex15, 15brandon, zach.914, runnerboi.14, austinf19, sportsgirl.914, brandon.williams.23, dan.dan77771, beachsand.7, Austin A.
U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss urged parents and young adults who may have interacted with any of these usernames to call 1-800-CALL-FBI to help provide additional information that would help the investigation and help put this dangerous predator away for the rest of his life. Leaf is charged with one count of receiving child pornography, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in prison.
Leaf, a member of the Westchester County Sports Hall of Fame, has been the longtime announcer for Iona College basketball. He is also a retired Harrison middle school social studies teacher.
Iona Director of Athletics Matthew Glovaski said that Leaf is not a college employee but an outside contractor. “Iona College has learned of disturbing allegations involving an individual who was contracted to announce basketball games for the past several years,” Glovaski said. “At this time, none of the allegations have any association with the College. Iona takes all allegations of misconduct seriously, including against vendors.”
Leaf spoke briefly to LoHud.com, claiming that the photos and videos found, “stem from a hacking of my computer. I really don’t know how it was done.” But then when he was asked if he posed as a teenager online, he said, “yes, there is some truth in it.” After that comment, Leaf stopped talking and is free on $100,000 bail.
Leaf gave the FBI permission to search his computer, where they found 10 files involving child pornography. He also shared a video that he saved of the 15-year old boy that he had been in contact with under the brandon account. When the FBI interviewed the 15-year old boy, he admitted sending images to someone named “Alex” and “Brandon” and also that “Brandon” sent him nude photos.
Last month, we wrote about Thomas Corbia, the President of the Port Chester Board of Education, and a Westchester County Government employee. Corbia, allegedly shared a Facebook post from a friend which read,
“I’m selling my white privilege card. It’s just over 77 years old and it hasn’t done a damn thing for me. No inheritance, no free college, no free food, no free housing, etc. I may even be willing to do an even trade for a race card. Those seem way more useful and more widely accepted. Interested? Contact me on my non-obama (sic) cell phone that I have to pay for every month. Serious inquiries only.”
Corbia’s claims that he was hacked, and that he did not share the post, nor did he post the comment attributed to him with the post which read “You are the f best and whoever doesn’t like that post, well they know what they can do.”
Originally, Corbia agreed to an investigation of his devices to prove if he was indeed hacked. After the School Board hired an IT company to investigate, Corbia refused to hand over his devices. Since then the two sides are at a stalemate, but Corbia is also accused of sharing another post in 2018 that read, “Illegal immigrants sent $56 billion in pure cash to their home countries last year alone. That’s after their kids enjoyed free education, free lunches and free medical care all paid for by you!”
Roger Grimes is an computer security expert, who has worked for 30 years as a consultant, witness, author. “It’s a very common defense response to say I was hacked. And while I don’t know about the innocence or guilt of these specific cases, 99.9% of the time the claims of being hacked are false and hacking is being used as an excuse.
In the criminal case against Leaf, Grimes said that the FBI, “is used to the claims of being hacked, and should be easily able to determine,” if someone is lying about being hacked. Grimes and other computer experts able to determine “with certainty” if your devices have been hacked, “If we can conduct a thorough investigation and look through your computer and phone
Grimes said that one ‘Red Flag’ that an investigation will uncover is “Usually, you are responding to emails and conducting other activity on your computer at the same time that you claim you were hacked. A good computer forensic analysis will uncover this. Usually they get caught in the moment and they can’t take it back.”
Grimes added that another piece of a computer forensic analysis “would look at the history of the user or devices, and see if there is a history of that type of activity, or if there are forums that match the memes. The people who were hacked don’t have that kind of history.”
“I’ve seen a real hack when it is alleged maybe 3 or 4 times in 20 years, while people claim it as an excuse thousands of times a day. It’s also difficult to hide your activity, you have to replace your hard drive.”
In the case of Corbia, the Ethics Committee of the Port Chester BOE issued a report which focused on the second, equally troubling post, which he only claims that “he did not remember if he shared the post with anyone.”
Corbia has also never reported the alleged Hacks to law enforcement as the Ethics Committee report notes. “It is troubling that Mr. Corbia was aware that hacking is a crime, he was hacked so many times over what appeared to be a short period of time and most recently had offensive posts attributed to him, but never reported any of the foregoing incidents to law enforcement.”
Pressure is being placed on the other members of the Port Chester School Board to make it clear to Corbia that if he does not turn over his devices he will be deemed to have lied to the community, or perhaps sue Corbia to get his devices. The taxpayers of Port Chester have paid an estimated $50,000 to an IT firm to investigate Corbia but can’t do a thing without his devices.
One recent letter to the editor in Port Chester asked the School Board, “What are you prepared to do?”
Congressman Mondaire Jones is one of several elected officials in Westchester that has declined to get involved in the Corbia matter.