By Jacob Engels
When hackers released the membership data for the “dating” website Ashley Madison, which functions as a married dating website encouraging extramarital affairs, I was certain that we would find a few Florida politicos on the list. However, when we came across the account information for a user named Jeff Ashton, we did not believe it was true.
Many probably remember Jeff Ashton as the assistant state attorney who rose to international fame after miffing the prosecution of suspected child killer Casey Anthony. He would later write a book and leverage his fame to defeat his boss in an election to become State Attorney for Orange and Osceola Counties.
Throughout Ashton’s prosecution of Casey Anthony and after, Mr. Ashton has tried to cultivate a saintly aura – packaging himself as the white knight of Central Florida, stomping out any “bad guy” who crossed him.
So, we consulted a technical expert who had access to the Ashley Madison raw data. The expert searched the credit card transactions database and found 14 transactions from July 2013 through February 2015 linked to a user named Jeff Ashton, all listing the same Orange County street address. We then searched that address through the Orange County Property Appraiser’s website, and property records showed it was the homestead of a Jeffrey L. Ashton. Voter registration data also confirmed that the address that appeared in the data pulled from Ashley Madison was also the address listed on Mr. Ashton’s voter file.
The credit card transactions database shows two Ashley Madison account numbers affiliated with a Jeff Ashton and Mr. Ashton’s address. The first account appears to have been active during July 2013. By cross-referencing the data, it appears this was one of the infamous “paid delete” accounts, which Ashley Madison notoriously is alleged to have charged members to purge, without following through. The second account has been open much longer, with transactions spanning from August 2013 through February 2015.
Both accounts appear to have used the same credit card number for payment.
Further research revealed a subtle yet shocking fact. The database revealed that both Jeff Ashton Ashley Madison accounts were accessed from IP address “126.96.36.199”. Research by our technical expert using publicly available Reverse DNS services has revealed that this IP address tracks back to “host-204.ocnjcc.org” and the Ninth Judicial Circuit internal network! In other words, it appears Jeff Ashton was using the cheating website on taxpayer’s time, on a state-owned machine and computer network at the Ninth Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office!
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