A federal jury in Knoxville, Tennessee convicted David Kernell, the 22 year old son of Democratic State Representative, on two of four counts related to the intrusion into former Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s personal Yahoo! Mail account during the 2008 elections today:
(Reuters) – A college student who hacked into former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s e-mail account and posted some of its contents on the Internet was found guilty Friday.
After four days of deliberations, a federal jury found David Kernell, the 22-year-old son of a Democratic Tennessee state legislator, guilty of obstruction of justice, a felony, and unauthorized access of a computer, a misdemeanor.
Kernell was cleared of a wire fraud charge, and the jury could not agree on a verdict on a charge of identity theft.
Judge Thomas Phillips declared a mistrial on the identity theft charge but did not set a date for sentencing.
The obstruction charge alone carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years, while the misdemeanor count is punishable by up to one year in jail.
Ms. Palin issued a statement via her Facebook page, thanking the jury and prosecutors their efforts and explaining the case’s importance:
My family and I are thankful that the jury thoroughly and carefully weighed the evidence and issued a just verdict. Besides the obvious invasion of privacy and security concerns surrounding this issue, many of us are concerned about the integrity of our country’s political elections. America’s elections depend upon fair competition. Violating the law, or simply invading someone’s privacy for political gain, has long been repugnant to Americans’ sense of fair play. As Watergate taught us, we rightfully reject illegally breaking into candidates’ private communications for political intrigue in an attempt to derail an election.
I want to thank the public servants who worked so hard on this case, particularly the jurors who gave up precious time from their jobs and families to listen to the evidence and reach a decision.
My family and I appreciate the good people of Knoxville, Tennessee, who showed us true Southern hospitality. We can’t wait to visit again – but without having a subpoena in hand.
Although I expect Mr. Kernell will see some jail time it’ll be far less than the 20 year maximum, federal sentencing guidelines set a range of 15 to 21 months and allow for probation in cases like this. I do think prosecutors overreached a little in this case and as one witness said “put on a dog and pony show“. They had to though, never mind basic privacy considerations… Sarah Palin was a Vice Presidential candidate in the middle of hotly contested election, investigators and prosecutors had to aggressively pursue this case to send a message that these types political dirty tricks won’t be tolerated.
- Jury convicts Palin e-mail intruder on two counts; mistrial declared on ID theft – Knoxville News Sentinel
- Protecting Against Password Reset Attacks – Randy Abrams, Eset Software.