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June 25, 2010

Alleged hacker learning severe punishment can follow federal plea refusal

Anyone familiar with federal sentencing realities knows that, at least in some cases, a defendant's decision to refuse the first plea deal offered by prosecutors can result in a severe increase in the sentencing stakes.  This new Wired story, which is headlined "Accused Hacker Who Balked at 2-Year Prison Deal Now Faces Decades," provides a high-profile example of the severe punishment that can follow a refusal to accept a federal plea deal:

An alleged hacker who declined a 2-year plea deal is facing decades behind bars after federal authorities Thursday added multiple charges, including possession and distribution of child pornography.

Barry Ardolf, 45, of Blaine, Minnesota, had rejected a plea deal in connection to charges accusing him of sending Vice President Joe Biden a threatening e-mail from his neighbor’s computer, a computer he is accused of hacking. The decision to reject the offer, his lawyer said Monday, “was a difficult one.”

A federal grand jury substantially upped the ante against the computer technician Thursday, ringing him up on additional charges of identity theft and two kiddie-porn accusations carrying lifetime sex-offender registration requirements. The authorities said he faces a maximum 20 years for the alleged porn distribution, 10 years for the porn-possession charge and five years each for the two hacking charges.

Ardolf maintains his innocence, and federal judges are not bound by sentencing guidelines.

When Threat Level reported his rejection of the plea deal Monday, we noted that the move could come back to haunt him. The procedural posture of the case meant new charges were imminent absent a plea deal. Before Thursday’s indictment, he faced a maximum seven-year term if convicted.

The authorities maintain he unlawfully accessed his neighbor’s computer and sent the threatening e-mail to Biden under his neighbor’s account — intending for the e-mail to be traced to his neighbor. “I swear to God I’m going to kill you!” the e-mail threat read, in part.

The charges added Thursday allege he also sent e-mails from his neighbor’s account to that same neighbor’s co-workers. One of the messages contained child pornography, according to the indictment.

June 25, 2010 at 09:21 AM | Permalink

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Comments

can you say BLACKMAIL! It's such a WONDERFUL tool in our criminal govt's hands.

So basically it's take what we offer you or we screw you over FOREVER!

funny if i tell someone to do something or i'm gonna ruin your life i'm GOING TO JAIL!

Posted by: rodsmith3510 | Jun 25, 2010 4:52:28 PM

I am a lawyer. Court process with the perpetuator's case should be carefully handed to decide whether he is guilty or not with crimes that they are accusing him.

Posted by: Las Vegas Lawyer | Jun 25, 2010 8:17:31 PM

I always thought the jury verdict signaled the opening of serious settlement negotiations. There is still time to plea bargain.

This is the confiscatory model of the Inquisition 1.0. "You blasphemed by eating meat on Friday. You must go to the stake. We can get you dispensation is you give your assets to the church and ask for forgiveness."

As a rule, hackers should get the death penalty given the damage they do. If they are in a foreign country without extradition, they may be tried in absentia, condemned, and assassinated by the CIA. This is one sounded pretty bad, and deserves to die. Information on the child porn work he did should be given to the general population of inmates. To deter.

Next, the prosecutor and judge should be arrested, tried and executed as sole possible remedy in the French Revolution 2.0, to end the Inquisition 2.0 of today.

The idea that prosecutorial discretion may not even bring up 90% of the crime someone committed in the original plea deal is too much to tolerate. If it served some policy or justice advantage, that would be tolerable. It just serves the selfish interests of lazy, incompetent government workers. By giving 90% off discounts, they increase the change of agreement and reduce the chance of their having to do any work.

Prosecutors now allow 90% of serious FBI Index felony crime to go unanswered.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 26, 2010 6:45:22 AM

Madness. I think the hacker should go to prison for 30 years at taxpayers expense ($30,00 per year plus full medical) as the price society should pay for tolerating such a voracious, destructive system.

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The authorities said he faces a maximum 20 years for the alleged porn distribution.

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