CHICAGO — An information technology specialist has been arrested on cyber hacking charges for allegedly damaging the servers of a north suburban company where he formerly worked as a contractor.
EDWARD SOYBEL illegally accessed the servers of Lake Forest-based W.W. Grainger Inc., on multiple occasions last year, according to an indictment returned Tuesday in federal court in Chicago. Soybel intentionally caused damage to Grainger’s automated inventory management program, which operates on-site dispensing machines and has approximately 18,000 customers throughout the United States, the indictment states. The dispensing machines provide customers with secure access to durable products, such as safety equipment. Soybel had worked as a technical support contractor at Grainger’s facility in Niles until he was terminated in early 2016.
The indictment charges Soybel, 34, of Chicago, with ten counts of intentionally causing damage to protected computers, one count of attempting to cause damage to protected computers, and one count of attempting to access a protected computer without authorization.
Soybel was arrested Wednesday morning and he remains in federal custody. He pleaded not guilty to the charges during a Wednesday afternoon arraignment before U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly in Chicago. A status hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. today before Judge Kennelly.
The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Jeffrey S. Sallet, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to the indictment, Grainger maintained computer servers related to the dispensing machines at its facility in Niles. Soybel worked at the facility as a contractor from November 2014 to February 2016, after which his access to Grainger’s servers was deactivated. Soybel hacked into the servers on several occasions in July 2016, the indictment states.
The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Intentionally causing damage to protected computers and attempting to cause damage are each punishable by up to ten years in prison, while attempting to access a protected computer without authorization is punishable by up to one year. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Eichenseer.