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Press Release

Area Man Sentenced for 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 was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for possession of an unregistered destructive device and an additional 12 months for 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’s 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 SLCPA 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 in September to one felony count of possession of an unregistered firearm and one count of damage to a protected computer.  He appeared today for sentencing before United States District Judge Henry Autrey. 

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

Updated December 8, 2015