UNITED STATES AND INTERNATIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT DISMANTLE ONLINE ORGANIZED CRIME RING OPERATING OUT OF ROMANIA THAT VICTIMIZED THOUSANDS OF U.S. RESIDENTS
LEXINGTON, Ky. — A Winchester, Ky., man has admitted to conspiring to hack into a website dedicated to athletics at an Ohio high school, and using the site to defame the website owner and threaten and intimidate other people.
Today, in federal court, Deric Lostutter, 29, pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally access a computer without authorization, and to lying to an FBI agent. Noah McHugh, Lostutter’s co-conspirator, previously pleaded guilty in September 2016 to accessing a computer without authorization.
Lostutter admitted that in December 2012, he and McHugh hacked into a fan’s website, created for Steubenville High School sports teams, to bring attention to a rape for which two Steubenville High School football players had been arrested in August 2012 and were being held in custody. Lostutter filmed a video wearing a mask and wrote a manifesto, which were both posted on the website to harass and intimidate people, and to gain publicity for Lostutter’s and McHugh’s online identities. Specifically, the messages threatened to reveal personal identifying information of Steubenville High School students, and made false claims that the administrator of the fan website was involved in child pornography and directed a “rape crew.”
As part of the same hack, Lostutter and McHugh accessed the administrator’s private email account, and then publicly posted a link to download the administrator’s emails on the fan website. Lostutter and McHugh changed the website so no one could access anything regarding athletics and could only view the video, the manifesto, and the link to the administrator’s private emails. Lostutter and McHugh then used their online identities in social media and news interviews to promote themselves and their hack.
In 2013, Lostutter lied to the FBI by stating in an investigative interview that he had not written the manifesto posted to the website, that he had not accessed the password-protected section of the fan website, and that he had not changed the administrator password for the website, which prevented the administrator from regaining control of his own website.
Kerry B. Harvey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and Amy Hess, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, jointly announced the plea.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Neeraj Gupta prosecuted this case on behalf of the federal government.
Lostutter is scheduled to appear before Judge Danny C. Reeves for sentencing on March 8, 2017. Under federal law, each count carries a maximum of 5 years in prison. Any sentence will be imposed by the Court after consideration of the U.S. sentencing guidelines and the applicable federal statutes.