Criminal

Search Warrant Quashed in Boston College "Hacker" Case

On May 21, 2009, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court quashed a search warrant for the computers, electronic equipment, and digital storage devices of a Boston College computer science student and ordered the seized items returned.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Boston College Campus Police v. Calixte

Date: 

04/10/2009

Threat Type: 

Criminal Investigation

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Riccardo Calixte

Type of Party: 

Government
School

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Trial Court of Massachusetts, District Court Department, Newton Division

Case Number: 

0912SW03

Legal Counsel: 

Lawrence K. Kolodney, Adam J. Kessel, Thomas A. Brown - Fish & Richardson P.C.; Jennifer Stisa Granick, Matt Zimmerman - Electronic Frontier Foundation

Publication Medium: 

Email
Social Network

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Subpoena Quashed

Description: 

On March 30, 2009, Detective Kevin Christopher of the Boston College Police Department applied for a search warrant to seize computers, computer equipment, and digital storage devices belonging to Riccardo Calixte, a Boston College (BC) computer science major and employee of BC’s IT department.  Christopher asserted that there was probable cause to believe that these items had been used in, or were evidence of, criminal activity, to wit obtaining computer services by fraud or misrepresentation and unauthorized access to a computer system.  (Warrant Aff. ¶ 1, 4h.)  Probable cause was based upon allegations of one of Calixte’s ex-roommates, with whom he was having domestic issues at the time, that Calixte:
  • Is considered a “master of the [computer science] trade” and has a “reputation as a ‘hacker’”;
  • Often appears with “unknown laptops which [Calixte] says are given to him by Boston College for field testing or he is ‘fixing’ for other students”;
  • “[U]ses two different operating systems to hide his illegal activities,” one of which was described as “a black screen with white font which he uses prompt commands on”;
  • Has “hack[ed] into the B.C. grading system that is used by professors to change grades for students”;
  • Has “‘fixed’ computers so that they cannot be scanned by any system for detection of illegal downloads and illegal internet use”;
  • “‘Jail breaks’ cell phones”;
  • Has “a cache of approximately 200+ illegally downloaded movies as well as music from the internet”; and
  • Has “personally implicated himself in illegal activity to [his ex-roommate] on previous occasions.”

(Warrant Aff. ¶ 4b.)  The search warrant application also alleges that Calixte was the author of a mass email to the BC community that stated that his ex-roommate is gay, and included a link to a profile on adam4adam.com, a gay-oriented website, created in his ex-roommate’s name.  (Warrant Aff. ¶ 4d–4f.)

The search warrant was granted and Calixte’s iPods, cell phones, computers, external hard drives, and other digital equipment were seized.  In response, Calixte filed a motion to quash the warrant and for the return of his property, claiming that the search was illegal due to lack of probable cause, based on the fact that none of his alleged conduct constituted criminal activity and that the witness was unreliable.  (Calixte Mem. 6–8, 10, 13–14.)  In their opposition memo, the police stated that Calixte's use of the BC computer system to send a mass email "outing" his ex-roommate and create a "fraudulent profile" on adam4adam.com constituted access for "unauthorized uses" in violation of Massachusetts law.  (Opp'n Mem. 4–6.)  On April 22, 2009, First Justice Dyanne J. Klein of the Newton District Court denied Calixte’s motion, noting that the alleged unauthorized access to the BC grading system to change students’ grades constituted a crime, although the suspected “outing” of his ex-roommate via email over the BC list server did not.  (Trial Ct. Order 1–2.)

On May 21, 2009, in response to Calixte’s appeal, Justice Margot Botsford of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts overturned the Newton District Court’s decision and ordered that “all ongoing forensic analysis of the items seized from Calixte must cease . . . and all items must be returned forthwith.”  Justice Botsford ruled that the search warrant affidavit failed to establish probable cause, citing the “troublingly weak evidence of . . . [the ex-roommate’s] reliability” and an insufficient nexus between the items seized and evidence relating to the allegation of unauthorized access.  Finally, she noted that sending an email "outing" another student would not constitute a criminal offense, even if it violated a BC internet use policy.  (Sup. Jud. Ct. Order 6, 9–10.)

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CMLP Notes: 

Source: Slashdot

LB 06/02/2009

Priority: 

1-High

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South Carolina Attorney General Agrees to Temporary Restraining Order in Craigslist Suit

Today, a federal district court in South Carolina issued a consent order temporarily restraining South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster from "initiating or pursuing any prosecution against craigslist or its officers and employees in relation to content posted by third parties on craigslist's website." The order specifies that it is issued "by agreement of the parties.&qu

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Craigslist Sues South Carolina AG Over Threats of Criminal Prosecution

Tired of being bullied by South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, craigslist is going on the offensive.  CEO Jim Buckmaster announced on the craigslist blog today that that craigslist is suing McMaster in South Carolina federal court, seeking "declaratory relief and a restraining order with respect to criminal charges he has repeatedly thre

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Craigslist Dropping 'Erotic Services' Section, No Word On Whether State AGs Will Drop Their Bullhorns

The Associated Press is reporting that craigslist has decided to replace the "erotic services" section of its site with a new adult category that will be reviewed by craigslist staff (craigslist just issued a statement confirming the change).  The decision follows several months of pressure from officials in a number of states who have been trying to force the onlin

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Phoenix Police Raid Local Blogger Who Runs "Bad Phoenix Cops" Blog

Last month, Phoenix police raided the home of Jeff Pataky, a blogger who runs Bad Phoenix Cops, a blog that, not surprisingly, has been highly critical of the Phoenix Police Department.  According to The Arizona Republic, Pataky's home was raided by ten Phoenix police officers who handcuffed his girlfriend for three hours while they conducted the raid.  "We have heard internally from our police sour

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Arizona v. Pataky

Date: 

03/09/2009

Threat Type: 

Criminal Investigation

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Jeff Pataky

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

County of Maricopa, State of Arizona

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

In March 2009, Phoenix police raided the home of Jeff Pataky, a blogger who runs Bad Phoenix Cops, a blog that has been highly critical of the Phoenix Police Department.  According to The Arizona Republic, Pataky's home was raided by ten Phoenix police officers who handcuffed his girlfriend for three hours while they conducted the raid.  "We have heard internally from our police sources that they purposefully did this to stop me," Pataky told the Republic.  "They took my cable modem and wireless router. Anyone worth their salt knows nothing is stored in the cable modem."

The search warrant lists petty theft and computer tampering with the intent to harass as potential crimes. Pataky, who was away on a business trip when the raid occurred, says he has yet to see an affidavit that explains why they had probable cause to conduct the raid. 

The search warrant provides little insight into what police believe Pataky has done.  It does, however, mention repeatedly that police were to search for personal correspondence between Pataky and "Dave Barnes."  According to The Arizona Republic, Barnes is a former Phoenix homicide detective who went public in 2007 with claims of mismanaged evidence at the city's crime lab. In May 2009, Barnes' home also was raided by police due to his alleged "involvement in what some officers perceived to be a connection to a blog critical of the police leaders," the Republic reported at the time.

Carlos Miller, who runs the Photography is Not a Crime Blog, is reporting that Pataky recently filed a lawsuit over the raid, which netted three computers, routers, modems, hard drives, memory cards and everything necessary to continue blogging. Pataky told Miller that he has not let the raid stop him from blogging, however, "They thought they were going to scare us into a corner but they just made us stronger." 

Update:

07/14/09: Pataky filed a lawsuit against the City of Phoenix and the officers involved  in the raid. Pataky's six-count complaint alleges abuse of process, intentional infliction of emotional distress, harassment, and violation of privacy.

12/17/09: The Reporters Committee reports that Federal Judge James A. Teilborg dismissed Pataky's lawsuit against the city, ruling that the Privacy Protection Act does not apply when the "person possessing the materials is a criminal suspect - rather than an innocent third party - and the police have probable cause."

01/06/10:  Notice of appeal filed by plaintiff Pataky in his lawsuit against the City of Phoenix. 

02/01/10: Carlos Miller reports that a grand jury refused to indict Pataky on the charges related to the search warrant.

03/03/10: Appellant Pataky files a motion to dismiss his appeal of the dismissal of his lawsuit against the City of Phoenix. 

03/05/10: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit grants appellant Pataky's motion to dismiss.

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CMLP Notes: 

6/16/09 - nothing else seems to have happened (CMF)

8/1/09- updated info on affadavit and lawsuit, more info on suit at http://badphoenixcops.blogspot.com/2009/07/second-lawsuit-filed-against-... not sure if I should link to it. 

7/29/2011 - I determined the result of the civil lawsuit filed by Pataky against the City of Phoenix et al, but I could not find state records of the criminal proceeding for false swearing. I therefore emailed Pataky requesting information, but he has yet to respond.  

8/11/2011 - I contacted Pataky asking about the status of his criminal charges two weeks ago and he has not responded. 

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Subject Area: 

Wisconsin v. Haluska

Date: 

05/22/2008

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Kent E. Haluska

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Brown County Court, Wisconsin

Case Number: 

2008CM000978

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

$1,838.00

Legal Counsel: 

Mark D. Skvara

Publication Medium: 

Social Network

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Convicted

Description: 

On May 20, 2008 Wisconsin realtor Kent Haluska was arrested and charged with criminal defamation.  According to press accounts, Haluska posted statements on the Real Estate networking site ActiveRain.com linking a fellow realtor to the Russian mafia.  Haluska was also accused of sending letters to the  realtor's clients telling them that they were funding Russian terrorism.  

Haluska pleaded no contest to three misdemeanor charges in August 2008. He was sentenced to 18 months of probation, ordered to have no contact with the victim, banned from real estate work for one year, and required to pay a $1,838 fine.

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CMLP Notes: 

Source: Reporters Committee

 

CR editing

Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

Threat Source: 

Blog Post

Subject Area: 

Pennsylvania Student Sent to Jail For Lampooning Assistant Principal on MySpace

The Associated Press is reporting that two Pennsylvania judges have been charged with taking millions of dollars in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers.

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State of Colorado v. Tafoya

Date: 

10/01/2008

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Robert Ezekiel Tafoya

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

10th Judicial District, Pueblo County

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

In late October 2008, Colorado authorities charged Robert Ezekiel Tafoya with one count of criminal libel.  According to the Pueblo Chieftan

"The investigation showed that the defendant pasted pictures of the face of one person onto the body of other persons and published or disseminated the pictures electronically to others," Thiebaut [the District Attorney] said. "We believe it impeached the reputation (of his accuser) and those pictures were being used to ridicule her." Thiebaut would not elaborate on the relationship between Tafoya and his accuser, or what the doctored photos depicted, except to say that they cast Tafoya's accuser "in a compromising position."

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Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

Threat Source: 

RSS

Subject Area: 

You Aren't as Free as You Think - Your Private Emails Can Land You in Jail

In the latest case involving the absurd and unconstitutional obscenity statutes, the Fourth Circuit has upheld a conviction of a man for mere private possession of allegedly obscene material. See United States v. Whorley, __F.3d__ (4th Cir. 2008). While the facts may not fit any conduct in which you might engage, the logic could very well ensnare you one day.

Read on. You should be outraged.

Introduction

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Subject Area: 

State of Utah v. Ian Lake

Date: 

05/18/2000

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Ian Lake

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Fifth District Juvenile Court, Beaver County, State of Utah

Case Number: 

No. 20010159 (Utah Supreme Ct.)

Legal Counsel: 

Stephen C. Clark, Janelle P. Eurick, Richard A. Van Wagoner, Robert J. Shelby

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

In May 2000, Beaver County Utah deputies seized Ian Lake’s computer and arrested the 16-year-old Milford High School student.  Lake was charged with one count of criminal libel in violation of Utah Code section 76-9-502 and one count of criminal slander for imputing unchastity to a female in violation of Utah Code section 76-9-507 after posting derogatory comments on a website that he created at home. Lake referred to several students’ sexual history and also accused his high school principal of being the “town drunk” and having an affair with the school secretary, according to filings in the case.

Utah's criminal libel statute states that "a person is guilty of libel if he intentionally and with a malicious intent to injure another publishes or procures to be published any libel." The crime, a misdemeanor, carries a penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.  Lake spent seven days in a juvenile detention facility. The state later dropped the slander charge but continued to pursue a libel conviction.   

On July 31, 2001, the ACLU of Utah filed a motion to dismiss Lake’s criminal charges on the ground that Utah’s criminal libel statute is unconstitutional on its face.

On January 23, 2001, Fifth District Juvenile Court Judge Joseph E. Jackson denied the motion to dismiss, but acknowledged that it “raises serious and substantial questions about the facial validity of Utah’s criminal libel statute, that there is some merit for the position that the statute is unconstitutional, and that there is no just reason for delay in certifying the court’s denial of the Motion to Dismiss for immediate appeal.”  He referred the case to the Utah Supreme Court.  

On November 15, 2002, the Utah Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the state’s criminal libel law was unconstitutional.

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Threat Source: 

Court Filings

Subject Area: 

Patriot Act’s National Security Letter Gag Provisions Choke on First Amendment Grounds

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals struck down one of the most constitutionally repugnant provisions of the PATRIOT Act -- the portions of the Act that place recipients of so-called "national security letters" (NSLs) under a permanent, unreviewed, lifetime gag order. See Doe v. Mukasey, __ F.3d __ (2d. Cir. 2008).

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Blogger Pleads Guilty to Copyright Infringement for Leaking Songs from Guns N' Roses Album

Kevin Cogill, a blogger on Antiquiet, which provides "uncensored music reviews and interviews," pled guilty yesterday in federal court in Los Angeles to one count of misdemeanor criminal copyright infringement after he allegedly posted nine songs from the then unreleased Guns N' Roses album "Chi

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More Online Journalists Jailed Than Any Other Media Group

Online speakers are attracting more attention than ever from governments across the world, for good or for ill. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), more online journalists are currently imprisoned for their speech than journalists in print, broadcast, or other media.  The CPJ identified 125 journalists currently serving prison sentences, 45 percent of whom are bloggers, Web-based reporters, or online editors.

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Colorado Man Charged With Criminal Libel For Comments on Craigslist

The Loveland Connection is reporting that a Colorado man has been charged with two counts of criminal libel after allegedly posting comments about a former girlfriend and her lawyer on Craigslist.com's "Rants and Raves" section:

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

State of Colorado v. Weichel

Date: 

10/21/2008

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

J.P. Weichel

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Eighth Judicial District Court, Larimer County

Legal Counsel: 

Michael Liggett

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Convicted

Description: 

J.P. Weichel has been charged with two counts of criminal libel after allegedly posting comments about a former girlfriend and her lawyer on Craigslist.com's "Rants and Raves" section.  According to the Loveland Connection:

The case in Loveland began when a woman approached the Loveland Police Department in December 2007 about multiple postings made about her between November and December 2007. At least one post suggests that she traded sexual acts for legal services from her attorney, according to court records. There's also mention about a child services visit made because of an injury found on her child.

Police obtained search warrants for records from Craigslist.com and other Web sites and identified J.P. Weichel as the suspect, the former boyfriend of the woman, who shares a child with her. In August, detectives confronted Weichel at his workplace, where police said he admitted to the postings because he was "just venting," according to the court file.

It appears that Weichel has been charged under Colorado's criminal libel law, Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-13-105, which defines criminal libel as follows:

(1) A person who shall knowingly publish or disseminate, either by written instrument, sign, pictures, or the like, any statement or object tending to blacken the memory of one who is dead, or to impeach the honesty, integrity, virtue, or reputation or expose the natural defects of one who is alive, and thereby to expose him to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule, commits criminal libel.

(2) It shall be an affirmative defense that the publication was true, except libels tending to blacken the memory of the dead and libels tending to expose the natural defects of the living.

The charges against Weichel constitute a class 6 felony that carry a punishment of up to 18 months in prison.  A hearing is scheduled for December 2008.

Update:

5/14/09 - Weichel pled guilty to two counts of harassment and received four years probation, a five hundred dollar fine, and sixty hours of community service.

Jurisdiction: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

via HowAppealling

Subject Area: 

Threat Source: 

RSS

Jury Finds Lori Drew Not Guilty on Felony Charges

Wired/Threat Level reports:

Lori Drew, the 49-year-old woman charged in the first federal cyberbullying case, was cleared of felony computer-hacking charges by a jury Wednesday morning, but convicted of three misdemeanors. The jury deadlocked on a remaining felony charge of conspiracy.

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Lori Drew Trial Ongoing, Legal Issues Still Unclear

Lori Drew's trial for allegedly violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) began this week.  There has been some great coverage of the proceedings, including the following highlights:

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