U.S. prosecutors say a hacking group’s mastermind should be spared a long prison sentence due to his quick and fruitful cooperation with law enforcement.
The man, Hector Xavier Monsegur of New York, is accused of leading a gang of international miscreants calling themselves “Lulzsec,” short for Lulz Security, on a noisy hacking spree in 2011, striking companies such as HBGary, Fox Entertainment and Sony Pictures.
Lulzsec, an offshoot of Anonymous, led a high-profile campaign that taunted law enforcement, released stolen data publicly and bragged of their exploits on Twitter. Their campaign touched off a worldwide law enforcement action that resulted in more than a dozen arrests.
Monsegur, known as “Sabu,” was secretly arrested by the FBI around June 2011. He pleaded guilty in August that year to a 12-count indictment outlining various fraud and hacking charges. He agreed to work with investigators, which resulted in several more arrests.
In a filing on Friday, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara wrote that Monsegur should only be sentenced to the seven months he has already served. He could face between 21 and 26 years in prison.
“Monsegur was an extremely valuable and productive cooperator,” Bharara wrote.
After FBI agents went to Monsegur’s home around June 7, 2011, he allegedly admitted to criminal conduct and immediately agreed to cooperate with law enforcement, according to the filing.
“That night, Monsegur reviewed his computer files with FBI agents and provided actionable information to law enforcement,” it said.
In May 2012, Monsegur got in trouble after making “unauthorized online postings,” and his bail was revoked. But he was released on a revised bail package in December 2012 and has remained free since, the filing said.
Monsegur’s cooperation lead to the arrest of Jeremy Hammond, who at one time was the number one cybercriminal target. Hammond, of Chicago, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in November 2013 after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in computer hacking. He also agreed to pay US$2.5 million in restitution.
Hammond admitted to participating in more than a half dozen attacks perpetrated in 2010 and 2011 by Anonymous and affiliated groups, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. All told, information supplied by Monsegur led to the arrest of seven other major figures, the filing said.