San Jose Man Sentenced To 20 Months For Computer Hack That Shut Down Opening Day Concession Sales At Earthquakes Stadium
SAN JOSE – Salvatore A. La Rosa was sentenced today to 20 months in prison and ordered to pay $268,733 in restitution as well as a $5,000 fine for intentional damage to a protected computer, announced Acting United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair. The sentence was handed down by United States District Judge Lucy H. Koh.
La Rosa, 41, of San Jose, pled guilty on February 17, 2021, to accessing without permission the Spectra Food Services and Hospitality’s (Spectra) on-line concessions management account for Earthquakes Stadium on February 29, 2020, the first home game of the San Jose Earthquakes 2020 MLS season. Spectra was the stadium’s concessions contractor, and its employees used Spectra’s mobile tablets as Point-of-Sale terminals to sell food and other items. The tablets displayed menus and payment selections from an online-based application developed for sports stadiums.
According to his plea agreement and a filing by the government for sentencing, La Rosa worked at the stadium from February 14, 2015, until Spectra terminated him from his job as Operations and Premium Services Manager on January 6, 2020. La Rosa admitted that he later logged into the administrative portal for the Earthquakes Stadium from his residence and used a password, without authority, to access Spectra’s concessions menu and payment selections. He then deleted them. The deletion caused the Point-of-Sale tablets used by Spectra’s staff to stop working during the February 29, 2020, opening day soccer match and disabled Spectra’s ability to accept credit cards. Spectra’s employees were forced to resort to handwriting orders and using calculators to complete cash transactions. The resulting delays led to lost sales from the inability to process orders and, according to the government’s filing, a devastating impact on staff due to verbal abuse from frustrated, angry customers. In some instances, Spectra had to provide free food and beverages to club members due to its inability to process credit card transactions.
On March 7, 2020, Spectra and the San Jose Earthquakes, in an attempt to regain the trust and business of customers, offered a fifty-percent discount on all concessions at that day’s game.
Spectra suffered a loss of $268,733 in damages, consisting of lost revenue, concession discounts offered at the March 7 game, employee time to repair the damage to the data, and labor costs.
On October 27, 2020, La Rosa was charged by Information with one count of Intentional Damage to a Protected Computer, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1030(a)(5)(A) and (c)(4)(B)(i), a charge to which he pleaded guilty on February 17, 2021.
United States District Judge Koh also sentenced the defendant to a three year period of supervised release. The defendant remains out of custody on bond and will begin serving the sentence on July 28, 2021.
Susan Knight is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the case with the assistance of legal tech Elise Etter and paralegal Rebecca Shelton. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.