Former Student Pleads Guilty to Destroying Computers at The College of St. Rose
Used “USB Killer Device” to Destroy Computer Equipment and Caused More than $58,000 in Damage
ALBANY, NEW YORK – Vishwanath Akuthota, age 27, of Albany, pled guilty today to causing damage to computers owned by The College of St. Rose.
The announcement was made by United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith; James N. Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); and Chief Eric Hawkins of the Albany Police Department (APD).
Akuthota admitted that on February 14, 2019, he inserted a “USB Killer” device into 66 computers, as well as numerous computer monitors and computer-enhanced podiums, owned by the college in Albany. The “USB Killer” device, when inserted into a computer’s USB port, sends a command causing the computer’s on-board capacitors to rapidly charge and then discharge repeatedly, thereby overloading and physically destroying the computer’s USB port and electrical system.
Akuthota admitted that he intentionally destroyed the computers, and recorded himself doing so using his iPhone, including making statements such as “I’m going to kill this guy” before inserting the USB Killer into a computer’s USB port. Akuthota also admitted that his actions caused $58,471 in damage, and has agreed to pay restitution in that amount to the College.
Akuthota is a citizen of India, residing in the United States on a student visa. He has been in custody since he was arrested in North Carolina on February 22, 2019.
When he is sentenced on August 12, 2019 by United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino, Akuthota faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of post-imprisonment supervised release of up to 3 years. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.
This case was investigated by the FBI and APD, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne A. Myers.