FBI Officials Request Leniency In Sentencing Of Former LulzSec Chief
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
US prosecutors are seeking leniency for Hector Xavier Monsegur, claiming in a court filing that the former head of the LulzSec hacking group has been an “extremely valuable and productive” informant for federal law enforcement officials.
Monsegur, who is also known as “Sabu,” pleaded guilty to charges of hacking, credit card fraud and identity theft back in 2011, said CNET associate editor Edward Moyer. The mastermind of cyberattacks against the CIA, the US Senate and others, he was ousted as a LulzSec member shortly after his arrest, and was approached by FBI agents around the same time.
According to BBC News, FBI officials have credited Monsegur with helping to stop over 300 hacking attempts since his arrest, preventing losses of several million dollars. In addition, the organization said that his help played a vital role in identifying, prosecuting and convicting Jeremy Hammond, who they said was the “number one cybercriminal target in the world” at that time, the British news agency added.
Hammond, a Chicago native, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and agreed to pay $2.5 million in restitution after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in computer hacking back in November 2013, reported Jeremy Kirk of IDG News Service. He admitted to taking part in at least six attacks as part of Anonymous and Anonymous-affiliated groups in 2010 and 2011, according to US attorney Preet Bharara, who filed the leniency request.
Monsegur, who will be sentenced on Tuesday for his crimes, faces a 21-26 year prison term under US Sentencing Guidelines. However, Bharara wrote to the District Court in the Southern District of New York seeking a sentence of time served – in other words, the seven months that the former member of the Anonymous offshoot spent behind bars in 2012 after violating a plea agreement by making “unauthorized online postings,” said Moyer.
While he was cooperating with officials, Monsegur was said to be in contact with his former hacking colleagues and was able to discover information about planned cyberattacks, BBC News reported. He shared that information with the FBI and was able to prevent attacks targeting Congress, the US Armed forces, and NASA, as well as a “television network, a video game manufacturer and an electronics conglomerate.”
In the memo, Bharara praised Monsegur for providing “consistent and corroborated historical information” and “substantial proactive cooperation” that “contributed directly to the identification, prosecution, and conviction of eight of his major co-conspirators, including Hammond.”
The attorney added that the former LulzSec member “provided crucial, detailed information regarding computer intrusions” committed by groups affiliated with Anonymous, “including how the attacks occurred, which members were involved, and how the computer systems were exploited once breached… the costs associated with repairing these attacks ran into the tens of millions of dollars.”