[ISN] Hillsdale's teen mayor convicted in Web prank

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Thu Jul 05 2007 - 23:28:27 PDT


By Francis X. Donnelly 
The Detroit News
July 04, 2007

Michael Sessions' youth earned him national publicity in 2005 as he 
became one of the youngest mayors in the United States.

On Tuesday, the 19-year-old mayor of Hillsdale blamed his youth for 
garnering the wrong type of attention -- a misdemeanor conviction.

A day earlier, Sessions pleaded no contest to sending an e-mail under 
someone else's name to the mother of a former friend, accusing him of 
drinking and running around with women.

In return for the plea, prosecutors dropped a more serious charge: that 
Sessions had hacked into the friend's MySpace and America Online 
accounts to delete his lists of personal contacts with their addresses 
and phone numbers.

"Young people make mistakes," he said. "We all make mistakes."

Sessions, who was convicted of malicious annoyance by writing, was 
ordered by a Hillsdale County district judge to perform 40 hours of 
community service and pay $850 in restitution and $100 in court costs.

His actions stem from a falling-out with Brandon Thomas, 19, a childhood 
friend who had run Sessions' mayoral campaign.

Sessions said the falling-out occurred shortly after his election in 
November 2005 but declined to elaborate. Thomas couldn't be reached for 

Sessions referred questions to his attorney, David Blanchard, who wasn't 
available because of a trial.

Sessions unwittingly initiated the probe that led to the criminal 
charge, Hillsdale County Prosecutor Neal Brady said.

Posing as the concerned parent of a student earlier this year, Sessions 
wrote an e-mail to Eastern Michigan University, where Thomas had been a 

He told college housing officials that Thomas had dropped out of school 
but was still living on campus and partying with students, hurting their 
grades, Brady said.

When the school contacted Thomas, he told them what Sessions had done to 
his computer accounts. The school relayed the information to the 
Michigan State Police, whose investigation led to the filing of charges 
against Sessions.

Thomas told the police that Sessions was savvy with computers and could 
easily get into other people's accounts, Brady said.

"It was done out of anger and frustration," Brady said. "I think 
Sessions let it get the best of him."

After his election, Sessions was interviewed by newspapers across the 
county and appeared on the "Late Show with David Letterman" and was 
parodied on "Saturday Night Live."

Now a student at Hillsdale College, he said he didn't believe his 
indiscretion would hurt his reputation or make his age a political 
target. The next mayoral election is November 2009.

"This is another chapter in my life," he said. "There are three ways to 
handle a problem: ignore it, jump over it or face it head-on. I faced 
this head-on."

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