According to court documents, The Strategic Petroleum Reserve Office (SPRO) was a component of the Department of Energy (DOE) that was responsible for, among other things, overseeing and maintaining the readiness of the United States’ stockpile of emergency crude oil, which was stored along the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico. DOE SPRO operated a restricted cloud-based computer system to handle a variety of functions, including documenting daily activity. SIMON, who was employed as a contractor for DOE SPRO from September 2007 until August 2018, worked in the Emergency Management Directorate and was responsible for, among other things, IT management of SPRO network applications. He was one of two individuals who knew the username and password of the Administrative Account.
After SIMON resigned from his contracting agency in about August 2018, he was no longer authorized to access the DOE SPRO computer systems. Nevertheless, on about October 21, 2018, SIMON intentionally accessed the DOE SPRO cloud-based system remotely without authorization. After SIMON accessed the system, he altered and deleted various files. As a result of the intrusion and subsequent manipulation of protected data, operators were unable to access their log views on the computer system, and they could not annotate work they completed electronically. The computer system remained compromised for approximately 2-3 hours after the discovery of the unauthorized access. Thereafter, SIMON used the account of a current SPRO employee without that employee’s authorization, to make changes to log views and to attempt to delete audit log files. SIMON’S actions resulted in loss to the DOE in the form of costs associated with responding to the offense, conducting a damage assessment, and restoring data, program, system, and information to its pre-offense condition, in the amount of approximately $23,200.
SIMON faces a maximum term of five (5) years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000.00, up to three (3) years of supervised release after imprisonment, and a mandatory $100 special assessment. Sentencing before Judge Guidry has been scheduled for November 11, 2019.
U.S. Attorney Strasser praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg, supervisor of the Public Corruption Unit, is in charge of the prosecution.