Written byPatrick Howell O'Neill
A member of the hacking group “Crackas With Attitude” was sentenced to five years in prison Friday after pleading guilty to conspiracy to hack U.S. government computer systems and accounts.
Victims included more than ten U.S. government officials including the then-director of the CIA John Brennan.
Justin Liverman, a 25-year-old who was known under the online alias “D3F4ULT,” pleaded guilty on Jan. 6. His sentence is the maximum allowed under the statute.
Liverman will also be forced to pay $145,000 in restitution.
The sentencing comes exactly one year after the Justice Department announced the arrest of Liverman and Andrew Otto Boggs, otherwise known as “INCURSIO,” for their involvement with Crackas With Attitude. The pair hacked into organizations under the group’s banner between October 2015 and February 2016. Boggs was sentenced to two years in prison for his role.
Emails from Brennan’s America Online account showed up on WikiLeaks in October 2015, including a security clearance questionnaire that led to criticism of Brennan for poor, personal security practices.
Liverman is one of five individuals that are facing charges for their connection to computer crimes committed by the Crackas With Attitude group. Other members included Boggs and three U.K. teenagers aged 16 and 17.
Liverman had little to do with the Brennan hack, according to the plea. Instead, he doled out congratulations to one of the British teenagers, the 17-year-old leader of the group who was known as CRACKA, for carrying out the break-in.
“Liverman conspired to attempt to intimidate and harass U.S. officials and their families by gaining unauthorized access to victims’ online accounts, among other things,” U.S. prosecutors in the Eastern District Court of Virginia said when he pleaded guilty earlier this year. “Liverman publicly posted online documents and personal information unlawfully obtained from a victim’s personal account; sent threatening text messages to the same victim’s cellphone; and paid an unlawful ‘phonebombing’ service to call the victim repeatedly with a threatening message.”
The menacing text messages sent by Liverman included personal threats sent to former FBI deputy director Mark Giuliano. Jay Leiderman, Liverman’s defense attorney, described Friday’s sentencing as “a total injustice” in a post on social media.
A total injustice. Justin Liverman aka @_d3f4ult just got maxed out – 60 months. Excessive and unnecessary sentence.
— Jay Leiderman (@JayLeidermanLaw) September 8, 2017
“These are no pranks,” Judge Gerald Bruce Lee said during Liverman’s sentencing hearing, according to the Washington Post. “This computer hacking, Crackas With Attitude, caused chaos. Your intent was clear, and that was to wreak havoc.”
The prosecution against CRACKA, the leader of the group, is ongoing in the United Kingdom.
“I thought what I was doing was right in terms of political justice,” Liverman said in court. “But two years later, I realize I was completely wrong.”
You can read the full affidavit against Liverman here.