District Man Sentenced to Four Years for Stealing Senate Information and Illegally Posting Restricted Information of U.S. Senators on Wikipedia
Defendant Engaged in “Doxxing” Activity
WASHINGTON – Jackson A. Cosko, 27, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to four years in prison for stealing Senate information and posting illegal restricted information of five U.S. Senators on the Wikipedia website.
The announcement was made by Alessio Evangelista, the Acting U.S. Attorney in this case, and Steven A. Sund, Chief of the U.S. Capitol Police.
Cosko, a former staff member of a United States Senator, pled guilty in April 2019, to five federal offenses: two counts of making public personal information; one count of computer fraud; one count of witness tampering, and one count of obstruction of justice, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In addition to his sentence term, Cosko had to forfeit computers, cellphones, and other equipment used in the crimes, which was part of his plea agreement. He was sentenced by the Honorable Senior District Judge Thomas F. Hogan.
According to the government’s evidence, the U.S. Capitol Police began an investigation on Sept. 27, 2018, after it was determined that the Wikipedia pages of three U.S. Senators had been edited to include restricted personal information without their knowledge or permission. This information included home addresses and personal telephone numbers. These edits took place roughly contemporaneously with public – and highly publicized – Senate proceedings related to a nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court. On Oct. 1, 2018, similar information was posted on the Wikipedia pages of two additional Senators.
“Doxxing” is the act of gathering, by licit and illicit means, and posting on the Internet personal identifying information (“PII”) and other sensitive information about an individual.
Cosko admitted that he was angry about his termination in May 2018 from his employment as a computer systems administrator in the office of another U.S. Senator (described in court documents as Senator #1). As a result, from July 2018 to October 2018, he engaged in an extensive computer fraud and data theft scheme. Cosko admitted that he carried out the scheme by breaking into Senator # 1’s office on at least four occasions and accessing Senate-owned computers for the express purpose of stealing proprietary electronic information, including the personal contact information for numerous other Senators. He then published the contact information for five U.S. Senators (identified as Senators #2, 3, 4, 5, and 6) using Wikipedia and Twitter, with the intent to threaten and intimidate these five Senators and their families.
On the night of Oct. 2, 2018, according to the affidavit, a witness saw Cosko at a computer in Senator # 1’s office. The witness confronted Cosko, who left the office. Later that evening, according to the statement of offense, Cosko sent a threatening e-mail to the witness, titling it, “I own EVERYTHING” and warning that, “If you tell anyone I will leak it all.” Additionally, that evening Cosko attempted to delete electronic evidence from items including a laptop computer that he used to obtain and download the stolen data.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Capitol Police. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Demian S. Ahn, Tejpal S. Chawla, and Youli Lee. Assistance was provided by Paralegal Specialists Diane Brashears and Matthew Ruggierio and Victim/Witness Advocate Yvonne Bryant, all of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.