D O J Seal
U.S. Department of Justice

United States Attorney
Northern District of Texas

1100 Commerce St., 3rd Fl.
Dallas, Texas 75242-1699



Telephone (214) 659-8600
Fax (214) 767-0978

CONTACT: 214/659-8600
AUGUST 15, 2006

Former Data Technician at Local Internet Hosting Company
and Self-Admitted Supporter of Pro-Jihad Website
Sentenced to 34 Months for Attempting to Cause Damage
to a Protected Computer

United States Attorney Richard B. Roper announced that Grapevine, Texas, resident, John Georgelas, was sentenced today by the Honorable A. Joe Fish, United States Senior District Judge, to 34 months imprisonment and ordered to pay $44,808.00 in restitution, following his guilty plea in May to one count of knowingly and intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization and recklessly causing damage to that computer. Georgelas also voluntarily forfeited to the government all of the computer equipment seized from his residence pursuant to the April 14, 2006 federal search warrant. American born Georgelas, age 22, has been in custody since his arrest on April 14, 2006 on related charges outlined in a sealed complaint.

John Georgelas worked at Rackspace Managed Hosting at the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) Datacenter facility in Grapevine. He was employed as a Datacenter Operations Technician and as such, he was authorized to help maintain the DFW datacenter servers and to assist customers who leased servers at that location. He was not authorized to access Rackspace customer servers prior to receiving a “trouble ticket” or customer complaint, and he was not authorized to access Rackspace servers to obtain customer passwords, except for the limited purpose of responding to trouble tickets for the Rackspace DFW Datacenter.

Georgelas admitted that in April 2006, he used his Rackspace work computer to access a San Antonio, Texas, Rackspace computer server to search for and access the passwords for a Rackspace customer, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC.org). Georgelas had not received a “trouble ticket” for AIPAC.org, and was not authorized to access the Rackspace servers at the Rackspace San Antonio Datacenter on that occasion for that purpose. Georgelas admitted he acted knowingly and intentionally exceeded his authorized access, and that upon learning the passwords for AIPAC.org, intended to cause damage to the AIPAC.org website at a later time.

The government presented evidence at court hearings that following his arrest, Georgelas admitted that he had previously participated in a group of “hacktivists” who were known as “Global Hell.” Some members of Global Hell were prosecuted in the Northern District of Texas, but Georgelas was a minor at that time and was not prosecuted for his involvement with that group. He was also discovered to have made unauthorized access to 56 computer servers for various entities which were not hosted by Rackspace, and had compromised those computers providing himself administrative privileges.

The government also presented evidence at the sentencing hearing that Georgelas’s unauthorized access of Rackspace was motivated by his desire to deface the website of
AIPAC.org due to his fundamentalist Muslim beliefs. The government was able to recover chat logs in which Georgelas communicated with a Canadian woman concerning his desire to support Al Qaeda, and he provided technical support to a pro-jihad website, jihadunspun.com, which was used as a propaganda vehicle to promote Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

As a result of Georgelas’s conduct, the Rackspace server system integrity was impaired and damaged and resulted in a loss to Rackspace of more than $44,000.

U.S. Attorney Roper praised the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Linda C. Groves.

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