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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of West Virginia

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Former Network Engineer Indicted By A Federal Grand Jury In Connection With Million-dollar Computer System Damage

CHARLESTON – A former network engineer at Charleston-based EnerVest Operating was indicted by a federal grand jury sitting in Charleston on Tuesday for allegedly causing extensive damage to the company’s computer system in June 2012, announced U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. Ricky Joe Mitchell, 34, of Mableton, GA, was charged with recklessly damaging a protected computer.  The alleged damage led to widespread computer network issues and resulted in more than $1 million in losses to EnerVest. 

The indictment alleges that on June 26, 2012, Mitchell, who knowingly accessed a protected computer without authorization, erased backup information, and disabled a data replication process designed to transmit backup data that was stored in Houston, Texas.  Mitchell is also alleged to have deleted all of the company’s phone system accounts, extensions, and accounting data. 

As a result of the alleged acts, employees at EnerVest Operating were unable to fully communicate or conduct business operations from approximately June 26, 2012 through July 27, 2012.   

Mitchell faces up to 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine if convicted.   

The U.S. Secret Service conducted the investigation.  United States Attorney Goodwin is handling the prosecution.  

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin announced the Business Protection Initiative in November 2010.  Business protection is a primary initiative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office that focuses on prosecuting individuals who defraud West Virginia businesses.

Note: The charge contained in the indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty

Click here to view a copy of the indictment

Updated January 7, 2015