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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Ohio

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 30, 2019

Lorain man indicted for accessing his employer’s computer system after learning he would be fired and shutting down the web site, blocking access to email

A Lorain man was indicted in federal court for accessing his employer’s computer system after learning he would be fired and shutting down the web site, blocking access to email and taking other unauthorized actions.

Austyn Keaton, 28, was charged with one count of damaging protected computers.

According to the indictment:

Keaton was the sole information technology employee for a company located in Avon Lake. Keaton gained access to emails of the company’s finance director and other employees. He learned the company planned to hire an outside vendor to take over IT operations from Keaton.

Keaton was scheduled to meet with the vendor on February 25, 2019, in which the vendor was to ask Keaton to transfer access to the company’s IT systems.

On the same day, Keaton accessed the finance director’s email, in which he learned the company planned to offer Keaton a severance package and terminate his employment.

Keaton then took steps to lock the company’s employees out of their email, take its web site offline, block the company’s employees from accessing the company’s customer relationship management system, and other unauthorized actions.

If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation.  In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Elyria Police Department and Avon Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Riedl and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Kern.

An indictment is only an allegation and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Topic(s): 
Cyber Crime
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Mike Tobin 216-622-3651 michael.tobin@usdoj.gov
Updated August 30, 2019