Security

Man Charged With Hacking Neighbor's Wi-Fi to Threaten Biden

A Minnesota man has been indicted for hacking into his neighbor's Wi-Fi network and posing as the neighbor to threaten U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and e-mail child pornography, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

The indictment, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, charges Barry Vincent Ardolf, 45, of Blaine, Minnesota, with two counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of making threats to the president and successors to the presidency, one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer, one count of possession of child pornography, and one count of distribution of child pornography.

The indictment alleges that in February 2009, Ardolf hacked into his neighbor's Wi-Fi network and created multiple Yahoo.com e-mail accounts in the neighbor's name. On May 6, 2009, Ardolf used one of those accounts to e-mail Biden's office, the DOJ said in a press release.

The e-mail read: "This is a terrorist threat! Take this seriously. I hate the way you people are spending money you don't have. ... I'm assigning myself to be judge jury and executioner. Since you folks have spent what you don't have it's time to pay the ultimate price. Time for new officials after you all are put to death by us ..."

Ardolf allegedly sent the same e-mail to Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and one of the state's U.S. senators, the DOJ said. Ardolf allegedly signed the e-mail with the name of his neighbor and the neighbor's wife.

The indictment also alleges that in February 2009, Ardolf posed as the neighbor and used the e-mail accounts he created in the victim's name to send sexually themed e-mails to three of the victim's co-workers. In one of the e-mails, Ardolf attached an image containing child pornography, the DOJ said.

Ardolf also allegedly created a MySpace page in the victim's name, on which he posted the same image of child pornography.

If convicted, Ardolf faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the distribution of child pornography charge, 10 years on the pornography possession charge, five years on both the unauthorized access to a computer charge and the threats to the vice president charge, and a mandatory two-year minimum prison sentence on each count of aggravated identity theft.

Ardolf backed out of a plea agreement earlier this month. He told his lawyer he didn't commit the crimes, according to news reports.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantusG. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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