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Press Release

Area Man Pleads Guilty to Cyber Attack of the St. Louis County Police Union Website

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri

St. Louis, MO – JUSTIN PAYNE pled guilty to destroying the St. Louis County Police Association website through a distributed denial of service attack.

According to court documents, on December 2, 2014, the group "Rebel But Gangster Black Rebels," aka RBG Black Rebels, promoted a cyber-attack against the St. Louis County Police Association (SLCPA) website on Twitter.  An investigation by the FBI determined that the RBG Black Rebels’ Twitter account is solely operated and held by the defendant, Justin Payne.  His cyber-attack was in conjunction with the group Operation Ferguson, which claimed affiliation with the group Anonymous.

On December 2, 2014, messages were sent out on Twitter by the Defendant. These messages contained a link for a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on the SLCPA Website.  A distributed denial-of-service attack is an attempt to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users.  All networks have a limited amount of connections that they can have at any one time.  The program distributed by the defendant exploited this limit by initiating as many connections with SLCPA website as possible to fill up the bandwidth.  This attack on the SLPCA website actually shut down the website.  On December 3, 2014, the St. Louis Division of the FBI confirmed a DDoS attack on website and began an investigation.  The SLCPA provided FBI Agents with web logs detailing the IP addresses used in the attack.  A review of the logs determined the times of the attack coincided with the Twitter messages sent by Justin Payne via his RBG Black Rebels Twitter account.

On January 27, 2014, a review of Payne’s Twitter account revealed messages associated with killing law enforcement officers.  Through investigation, FBI agents determined that Justin Payne worked at the V.A. facility located at One Archives Way, St. Louis, Missouri.  After Payne was arrested for the DDoS attack, the FBI received a search warrant for Payne’s car.  During the search of Payne’s trunk, agents located a glass container containing a flammable liquid mix of gasoline, water and ethanol, which was later determined to be an improvised incendiary device, commonly known as a Molotov cocktail.

Payne, address unknown, pled guilty to one felony count of possession of an unregistered firearm and one count of damage to a protected computer before United States District Judge Henry Autrey.  Sentencing has been set for December 7, 2015.

The firearm charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and/or a fine of $250,000 and damage to a protected computer carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and/or fines up to $100,000.  In determining the actual sentences, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Protective Service.  Assistant United States Attorney Colleen Lang is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Updated September 14, 2015