An Ohio man linked to the hacker collective Anonymous plans to plead guilty to charges that he breached police-agency websites, under an agreement with the federal government that calls for prison time and nearly $230,000 in restitution.
Court documents filed April 15 show 22-year-old John Anthony Borell III agreed to plead guilty to five charges related to the hacking of law enforcement websites in Utah, California, New York and Missouri.
The Toledo, Ohio, man would receive three years in prison and have to pay restitution under the agreement, which still needs court approval.
Man linked to Anonymous to plead guilty
Borell is scheduled to appear before a judge at an Aug. 21 hearing for approval of the plea deal, and sentencing.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah declined to comment on the agreement. Messages left with Borell's attorney Jamie Zenger were not immediately returned Tuesday.
As part of the deal, Borell would admit to hacking into the websites for Salt Lake City police; the Utah Chiefs of Police Association; police in Syracuse, N.Y.; the city of Springfield, Mo.; and the Los Angeles County Canine Police Association. He also would admit to hacking into a local community website in Illinois called “Pendleton Underground.”
The attacks all occurred between September 2011 and February 2012.
Borell was arrested in March of that year after he took credit for taking down the websites on his Twitter account.
“Regarding all of these hacks, I knew that what I was doing was illegal,” Borell states in court records. “I admit that I intentionally caused damage to protected computers by my conduct.”
Borell had been detained in a halfway house but was granted a court-approved release to live with his girlfriend in Toledo until his sentencing in August.
FBI officials have said the hacking gained access to citizen complaints about drugs and other crimes, including phone numbers, addresses and other personal data of informants. It also exposed some personal information on police officers.
The Utah police chiefs' website was compromised on Jan. 19, 2012, and was back online after a few days. But the Salt Lake City police site wasn't relaunched until four months after it went down on Jan. 31. Officials said the city spent $33,000 to repair damage to their website and beef up security.
The attacks on the servers came around the same time that a spate of Internet attacks attributed to Anonymous occurred around the country.
FBI investigators traced Borell through his Internet address associated with the Twitter account.
Anonymous is a group of loosely organized Internet enthusiasts, pranksters and activists whose targets have included financial institutions such as Visa and MasterCard, the Church of Scientology and law enforcement agencies.