District Man Charged in Investigation of Illegal Posting of Restricted Personal Information of U.S. Senators on Website
Arrest Followed Investigation of “Doxxing” Activity
WASHINGTON – A volunteer on the staff of a member of the U.S. House of Representatives made his first court appearance today on charges stemming from the illegal posting of restricted personal information of five U.S. Senators on the Wikipedia website, as well as related conduct.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie K. Liu and Matthew R. Verderosa, Chief of the U.S. Capitol Police.
Jackson A. Cosko, 27, of Washington, D.C., was arrested on Oct. 3, 2018 by the U.S. Capitol Police. He is charged in a criminal complaint with five federal offenses: making public restricted personal information; making threats in interstate commerce; unauthorized access of a government computer; identity theft; and witness tampering. The complaint also charges him with second-degree burglary and unlawful entry, both District of Columbia offenses.
Cosko appeared this afternoon before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The judge ordered that Cosko remain detained pending a hearing set for Oct. 9, 2018.
According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, 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.
Then, on Oct. 1, 2018, according to the affidavit, 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.
On the night of Oct. 2, 2018, according to the affidavit, a witness saw Cosko at a computer in the office of a U.S. Senator who had once employed him. The witness confronted Cosko, who left the office. An investigation led to Cosko’s arrest by the U.S. Capitol Police.
The charges in criminal complaints are merely allegations and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The statutory maximums for the crimes are as follows:
Making public restricted personal information – five years.
Threats in interstate commerce – two years.
Unauthorized access of a government computer – one year.
Identity theft – five years.
Witness tampering – 20 years.
District of Columbia Offenses:
Second-degree burglary – 15 years.
Unlawful Entry – Six months.
The maximum statutory federal sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any federal offense, a sentence will be determined by the court based on the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The investigation into this matter is being conducted by the U.S. Capitol Police. The case is being prosecuted by the Cyber Crime and National Security Sections of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.