[ISN] Miami Judge Drops Hacker Conviction

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Wed Apr 03 2002 - 00:43:57 PST

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    AP Business Writer
    Apr. 02, 2002
    MIAMI - One of the first convictions obtained under a federal law
    intended to crack down on computer hacking has been erased by a
    federal judge based on a financial assessment of the damage.
    Computer technician Herbert Pierre-Louis was convicted of knowingly
    transmitting a computer virus to his employer. But his jury decided
    the loss, not including lost profits, was less than $5,000, the
    minimum required for a conviction.
    "The law is the law, and the government didn't have sufficient
    evidence to meet all the elements of the crime," defense attorney
    Manuel Casabielle said Tuesday.
    Prosecutors did not immediately return a call for comment, but have
    told Casabielle they intend to appeal.
    Federal prosecutors wanted U.S. District Judge Alan Gold to factor in
    lost profits caused by a two-day shutdown when the virus infected
    computers at Purity Wholesale Grocers work sites in Buffalo, N.Y., and
    Hopkins, Minn., in June 1998.
    The defense argued that the only loss allowed under the law was repair
    costs, which didn't meet the $5,000 threshold.
    Calls to the Boca Raton-based company for comment were not immediately
    returned. Purity has $1.5 billion in annual sales through 12
    affiliated companies.
    Congress amended the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act last year to expand
    the concept of loss to cover lost revenue, repair costs and related
    damage from interrupted service.
    In examining the old and new laws, Gold said the latest version is
    more than a simple clarification or technical change.
    With the amendment, Pierre-Louis may be the only defendant who can
    take advantage of the narrower definition of the cost of hacking.
    If an appeals court sides with prosecutors and allows lost profits to
    be considered, Gold said Pierre-Louis would still be acquitted because
    prosecutors didn't work hard enough to prove the $5,000 loss.
    The conviction was greeted in the computer industry as a sign of
    things to come for hackers.
    Pierre-Louis' trial was only the second nationally under the
    anti-hacking law. The other case ended in the conviction of a
    California dot-com systems administrator who infected his old
    company's computers after quitting.
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