WASHINGTON - A man skilled in the operation of commercial wireless Internet networks was sentenced today for intentionally bringing down wireless Internet services across the region of Vernal, Utah, the Justice Department announced today.
Ryan Fisher, 24, of Vernal, was sentenced to 24 months in prison to be followed by 36 months of supervised release for intentionally damaging a protected computer. U.S. District Judge Paul G. Cassell also ordered the defendant to pay $65,000 in restitution.
Fisher was charged on Feb. 15, 2006, in a one-count criminal indictment. The defendant worked for SBT Internet, which provided Internet service to residential and business customers around Vernal using wireless radio signals between SBTís radio towers and its customersí wireless access points.
Fisher left SBT over business and financial disputes and went on to work for, and eventually own, another Internet service provider in the area. Fisher admitted that he then used SBTís computer passwords to take control of SBTís network and reprogram its customersí wireless access points to cut off their Internet service, including the service of one customer who was relying on electronic mail for news of an organ donor. He intentionally reprogrammed the access points to complicate SBTís repair efforts which resulted in jammed wireless Internet airwaves that affected others outside SBTís network, including another wireless Internet service and its customers. In total, more than 170 customers lost Internet service, some of them for as long as three weeks, and collectively caused more than $65,000 in losses.
The case was investigated by the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Senior Counsel Scott L. Garland and Trial Attorney Josh Goldfoot of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Leshia Lee-Dixon and Jonathan Boyd of the District of Utah.