Arrested Developers: 8 Tech Celebs Who've Been in Trouble with the Law

It's easy to forget that the people responsible for creating the technologies we use everyday are, well… people too. And some of them do bad things.

Tech Stars Behind Bars

The operators of the Pirate Bay torrent site, which reached over 25 million unique peers, were recently sentenced to a year in prison and millions of dollars in damages. Those behind the hoopla? Three Swedish guys, who considered The Pirate Bay a running piece of performance art. Here a few more tales of infamous "tech celebrity" run-ins with the law.

Think of anyone we've left out? Leave us a comment below.

Artwork: Danny Allen

Next: Bill Gates: Reckless Driving

Bill Gates: Reckless Driving

While there seems to be some debate over the exact details surrounding the 1977 arrest (and famously creepy mugshots) of the world's richest man to-be, the general consensus points to some form of traffic violation, possibly reckless driving. It wasn't his first time, nor was it his last, and some reports suggest that Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen may have been sitting shotgun in the Porsche at the time of Gates' arrest… partners in crime since day one.

Image Credit: The Smoking Gun

Next: Benjamin Curtis aka 'The Dell Dude': Marijuana Possession

Benjamin Curtis aka 'The Dell Dude': Marijuana Possession

In 2003, the then 22-year-old Benjamin Curtis, who portrayed "Steven" in a series of wholesome Dell commercials, shocked the world (or not) when he was arrested on charges of marijuana possession in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. "Duuude, you're getting ... arrested!"

Image Credit: Dell

Next: Stefan Eriksson: Fraud, Counterfeiting, Embezzlement, Weapons Charges

Stefan Eriksson: Fraud, Counterfeiting, Embezzlement, Weapons Charges

Not to be confused with the gadget blog Gizmodo, Gizmondo was a handheld gaming console manufactured by Tiger Electronics. The device's media playback, online capabilities, and built-in GPS made the console look quite cool on paper, but after its launch in 2005, it sold dismally and was quickly discontinued. The console can't have been helped by the media attention received by company executive Stefan Eriksson. Eriksson, who was known to Swedish police as Fat Stefan, had been convicted of counterfeiting about 20 million Swedish Kronor and, with the help of a bank employee, diverting more than $7 million, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Eriksson was in the news again in 2006 when he crashed a million-dollar Ferrari Enzo going 120 mph on the Pacific Coast Highway. Amazingly the Swede made it out with only a cut lip. He was arrested later in 2006 on charges of embezzlement, grand theft auto, and weapons charges.

Now that is quite a rap sheet! Rumor has it the Gizmondo 2 will be released this year as a smart phone.

Image Credit: LA Times

Next: John Carmack: Breaking and Entering

John Carmack: Breaking and Entering

Before he changed the face of computer gaming forever by coding such technically impressive and influential titles such as Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake, John Carmack may have had a bit of a troubled adolescence. At the age of 14, Carmack was arrested for breaking into a local school to steal Apple II computers, for which he was sentenced to a year in a juvenile home.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Next: Patrick Naughton: Child Pornography

Patrick Naughton: Child Pornography

One of the masterminds behind Sun Microsystems' Java project, Patrick Naughton, was working as an Internet Executive for Disney at the time of his high-profile arrest on the Santa Monica pier. Police alleged Naughton had crossed state lines to rendezvous with someone he thought was a 13 year-old girl he had met in an online chatroom called "dads&daughterssex." The "girl" was actually an undercover FBI agent. Naughton was acquitted on the charges of seeking to have sex with a minor, but was convicted of possessing child pornography.

His sentence was drastically reduced in exchange for providing "technical assistance" to the FBI to aid in catching pedophiles.

Image Credit: Life Magazine / Getty Images

Next: Hans Reiser: Murder

Hans Reiser: Murder

A few years ago, Hans Reiser's journaled file system ReiserFS claimed a significant user base in the Linux community. At times it was the default file system for several distros, including Novell SUSE. The file system was starting to fall out of favor in 2006 when the programmer was arrested and charged with murdering his wife, whom he had met through a Russian mail-order bride service. Reiser was eventually convicted in 2008. While development of Reiser4 (successor of ReiserFS) continues, it has not yet been integrated into the standard Linux kernel.

Image Credit:

Next: Kevin Mitnick: Computer Fraud

Kevin Mitnick: Computer Fraud

After two and half years of evading the FBI, Mitnick aka "Condor" was arrested for countless acts of computer fraud. He became known as the most wanted computer criminal in US history for breaking into a slew of public and private computer systems including every major telephone company. All for the sake of "intellectual curiosity," according to Kevin. As a fugitive, Mitnick cloned cell phones and was able to track FBI agents' phone calls in order to see how close they were on his trail.

After serving five years in prison (much of which in solitary confinement), Mitnick now runs his own computer security consulting business, for which he aids the FBI and private companies in preventing people like him from gaining unauthorized access to their computer systems.

Image Credit:

Next: Jon Lech Johansen: Computer Hacking

Jon Lech Johansen: Computer Hacking

In 2002, Norwegion programmer Jon Lech Johansen was indicted by Norwegian authorities at the age of 18 for his involvement in devising DeCSS- a tool used to decrypt DVDs encoded with the Content-Scrambling System (CSS). His defense argued that Johansen had obtained no illegal access to information as he merely reverse-engineered DVDs which he legally owned. Johansen was acquitted of all charges and has continued to defeat many popular digital encryption schemes via reverse-engineering.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Next: Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mentions:

• Josef Engressia aka "Whistler" was the original "phone phreak." This blind 7 year old discovered he could whistle at 2600Hz into a handset to make free phone calls and was later arrested for phone fraud.

• Tom Anderson, Myspace Co-Founder and President. Before he became everyone's friend on myspace, Tom was known as Lord Flathead, the hacker who at the age of 14 broke into the Chase Manhattan Bank computer system and threatened to destroy records, though he was never charged.

Think of anyone we've left out? Let us know below.


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