Sarah Palin Hacker Kernell Gets One-year Sentence

The former college student who guessed his way into Sarah Palin's Yahoo e-mail account during the 2008 U.S. presidential election was sentenced to a year and a day in prison Friday, according to published reports.

David Kernell's lawyers had been hoping for probation only; federal prosecutors had asked for an 18-month sentence. According to the Associated Press, the judge in the case recommended that Kernell serve his sentence in a halfway house, instead of a federal prison.

Kernell, a 20-year-old college student at the time of the incident, got into Palin's gov.palin@yahoo.com account by guessing answers to the security questions used by Yahoo to reset the account's password. In chat logs, Kernell said he was hoping to find information that would "derail" her 2008 vice presidential election campaign.

Palin was then governor of Alaska, and her critics thought she may have been conducting state business via the Yahoo account, in order to sidestep Alaska's open records law. Kernell found no such evidence after examining her Yahoo account.

He did, however, post the account's new password -- "popcorn" -- to the 4chan discussion board, and the contents of the account were eventually made public.

In her 2009 autobiography, "Going Rogue," Palin called the incident "the most disruptive" of the campaign.

Kernell was convicted on April 30, but his lawyers had argued for leniency, citing their client's "youth and emotional condition."

"The public humiliation, trial, and felony conviction are enough to deter any further violations of the law," his lawyers said in court filings.

He was sentenced by Judge Thomas Phillips of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, in Knoxville.

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert's e-mail address is robert_mcmillan@idg.com

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