California Man Admits Hacking Into Computers of High-Technology Company (August 31, 2004)
DOJ Seal
August 31, 2004

Department of Justice
Northern District of California
United States Attorney
11th Floor, Federal Building,
450 Golden Gate Avenue, Box 36055
Francisco, California 94102
Tel: (415) 436-7200
Fax: (415) 436-7234

California Man Admits Hacking Into Computers of High-Technology Company

The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California announced that Mark Erfurt, 39, of Orange, California, pled guilty today in federal court in San Jose to gaining unauthorized access and recklessly damaging the computer system of Manufacturing Electronic Sales Corporation ("MESC"), a Santa Clara-based manufacturing business, and to obstructing justice when he later tried to destroy evidence of his computer crimes.

Mr. Erfurt pled guilty to each count of an Superseding Information charging him with Unauthorized Access into a Computer Recklessly Causing Damage, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(5)(A)(ii), 1030(a)(5)(B)(i), and Destruction, Alteration and Falsification of Records in Federal Investigation, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1519. Section 1519 was enacted as part of the reforms included in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and prohibits the destruction of or tampering with any document with the intent to impede any U.S. Government investigation. The maximum statutory penalty is five years imprisonment for the computer hacking count, and twenty years imprisonment for the obstruction of justice count. Each count also carries a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross loss, a three year term of supervised release, a mandatory special assessment of $100, and restitution. However, the actual sentence will be dictated by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of factors, and will be imposed in the discretion of the Court. Mr. Erfurt is scheduled to be sentenced on January 24, 2005 at 1:30 p.m. before United States District Judge James Ware in San Jose.

According to the Plea Agreement, Mr. Erfurt admitted that, on January 23 and 24, 2003, he hacked into the computer system of MESC by using a computer from his workplace at a separate company in Irvine, California. Mr. Erfurt had previously served as the Information Technology Manager and then as Network Manager for MESC. After gaining unauthorized access to MESC's computer system, Mr. Erfurt admitted that he downloaded a proprietary database, read the e-mail account of the company president, and deleted data from the servers. Mr. Erfurt also admitted to obstructing justice in the FBI's ensuing investigation of these events by deleting data from his new employer's computers in an effort to destroy the evidence of his illegal computer intrusions. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Cyber Crime Squad in Oakland. The investigation was overseen by the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) Unit of the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California. Mark L. Krotoski is the Assistant U.S. Attorney from the CHIP Unit who is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release may be found on the U.S. Attorney's Office's website at www.usdoj.gov/usao/can. Related court documents and information may be found on the District Court website at www.cand.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.cand.uscourts/gov. All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney's Office should be directed to Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher P. Sonderby, Chief of the CHIP Unit, at (408) 535-5037, or Administrative Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia Caporizzo at (415) 436-6740.


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