[ISN] NASCAR Fan Faces Prison Time for E-mails

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Thu Apr 17 2003 - 00:39:44 PDT

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    Associated Press Writer
    April 16, 2003
    A NASCAR fan faces up to a year in prison for flooding Fox
    Entertainment with more than a half-million e-mails because he was
    angry the network aired a Boston Red Sox game instead of an auto race.
    Michael Melo of Billerica has agreed to plead guilty to a federal
    misdemeanor charge of damage to a protected computer system, his
    attorney said Wednesday.
    The action forced the network to shut down part of its Web site.
    Melo designed a program that repeatedly sent the same six e-mails to
    Fox Entertainment Group Inc. in Los Angeles over a few days in late
    April and early May 2001. The messages were sent through the company's
    Boston-area affiliate, according to the federal complaint."He was just
    very upset that the Red Sox would pre-empt NASCAR, so he decided to
    send these messages to express his views," said Melo's lawyer, Andrew
    Fox received more than 530,000 e-mails from Melo. Fearing a hacker was
    attacking its computer system, the company shut down a portion of its
    Web site, costing Fox $36,000, according to federal prosecutors.
    Also, by taking a portion of its Web site down, Fox Entertainment was
    unable to communicate via computer with WFXT-TV 25 in suburban Boston
    for several hours, and left the local affiliate unable to receive
    viewer e-mail, prosecutors said.
    The federal complaint did not specify the exact content of the
    Fox Entertainment spokesman Scott Grogin declined comment.
    The charge carries a maximum of one year in prison. Melo, who works in
    the computer industry and has no prior criminal record, will ask for
    probation, Good said."There was no intention to cause any of this
    damage and the government isn't claiming he did," Good said. "It
    happened, but it was produced by machines running wild. He's sorry it
    happened, obviously."A message left on an answering machine for a
    Michael Melo in Billerica was not immediately returned on Wednesday
    No date has been set for his plea hearing and sentencing.
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