Former IT Administrator Faces Federal Charges of Hacking into Computers of Prior Employer, an Irvine-based Company
SANTA ANA, California – A former Garden Grove resident pleaded not guilty this afternoon to federal charges of hacking into the computer system of Blue Stone Strategy Group – an Irvine-based company and the man’s former employer – and deleting files.
Nikishna Polequaptewa, 34, who currently resides in Polacca, Arizona, was arrested this morning after surrendering to federal authorities. At his arraignment this afternoon, he entered a not guilty plea, was ordered released on a $25,000 bond and was ordered to stand trial on June 28.
Polequaptewa was indicted by a federal grand jury in March on one count of unauthorized impairment of a protected computer.
“IT administrators often hold the ‘keys to the kingdom’ for companies,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Disgruntled IT administrators can therefore pose a grave threat to businesses, which must take measures to protect themselves when letting such an employee go.”
According to the indictment, Blue Stone provided consulting services to Native American tribal governments throughout the United States. Polequaptewa was responsible for information technology at Blue Stone until November 2014, when he was relieved of his duties, which led to his resignation. Immediately following his resignation, Polequaptewa repeatedly accessed the Blue Stone internal server, a desktop computer, and remote accounts held by Blue Stone, and allegedly deleted various files belonging to the company.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The computer hacking charge in the indictment carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
The investigation into Polequaptewa was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.