June 19, 1997 5:20 PM PDT

Mitnick faces 22-month rap

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A U.S. District judge said she is planning to sentence notorious computer hacker Kevin Mitnick to a total of 22 months in prison, according to her court clerk.

Judge Mariana Pfaelzer is slated to dole out the sentence Monday, at which time she will also decide on terms and conditions of his sentence, the clerk said.

Mitnick was arrested in North Carolina in February 1995 and held without bail; he has already served 28 months. But his troubles may not end with this particular sentencing.

In September, Mitnick and his alleged accomplice, Lewis Depayne, pleaded not guilty to separate federal charges related to an alleged 2-1/2 year criminal hacking spree.

Mitnick is facing 25 counts on charges stemming from a series of computer break-ins that took place between June 1992 and February 1995. He is accused of attacking systems belonging to software makers, ISPs, and educational institutions, including Netcom, Colorado Supernet, Motorola, Nokia, Fujitsu, Novell, NEC, Sun Microsystems, and the University of Southern California.

Under the statute, Mitnick could face 100 years in prison if convicted.

The case is significant because Mitnick is without a doubt the nation's, if not the world's, most notorious hacker. He has become a legend in the computer world and beyond, having been the subject of several books and news reports. His escapades began as a teenager when he allegedly tapped into a computer system in his high school, according to biographical accounts. Over the years, his hacking reportedly grew into an obsession.

While he has been accused and convicted of breaking into systems, many have said that although he has broken into systems, he has never used the information to get rich. Rather than the crimes being about the money, they have been about the challenge.

But law enforcement officials clearly feel differently. In an indictment handed down in September Mitnick, was charged with 14 counts of wire fraud, arising from his alleged theft of proprietary software from manufacturers. The charges also accused him of damaging USC's computers and "stealing and compiling" numerous electronic files containing passwords.

The government said that, as part of the elaborate scheme, Mitnick and DePayne used "cloned" cellular phones to make their calls and computer connections untraceable, disabled computer audit programs and logs, and carried numerous aliases.

The indictment stemmed from an ongoing investigation involving the FBI, Internal Revenue Service, NASA, the computer crime unit of the Justice Department, and federal prosecutors' offices across the country.

 

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