NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — An admitted online “troll” was sentenced Monday to the maximum prison term under federal guidelines — more than three years — for illegally gaining access to AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T)‘s servers and stealing more than 100,000 email addresses of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad users.
Dozens of Andrew Auernheimer’s supporters packed the hearing and clapped when he made a statement castigating the government for what he characterized as an unfair prosecution. The proceeding turned tense at one point when Auernheimer apparently pulled out a cell phone and several U.S. marshals grabbed it from him and held him spread-eagle on the defense table. After a short recess, he was led back into the courtroom in shackles.
Auernheimer, formerly of Fayetteville, Ark., was convicted in November of identity theft and conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to computers. The counts each carry a five-year maximum sentence, but U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton had accepted federal prosecutors’ request to use a range of 33 to 41 months. Auernheimer’s attorney had sought probation. The attorney, Tor Ekeland, said he would appeal Auernheimer’s conviction and 41-month sentence.
“The one word that comes to my mind the most is disappointment,” Wigenton said as she pronounced Auernheimer’s sentence. “That someone of your intelligence and ability would use his skills in a negative way.”
Outside the courtroom before the sentencing, Auernheimer fumed about U.S.-sponsored drone attacks and referred to the U.S. government as “malicious tyrants.” In front of the judge he was less strident but no less adamant about his innocence.
“I respectfully say this court’s decision is wrong and if you understood what you are doing to the rule of law and the Constitution, you would be ashamed,” he told Wigenton.