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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Software developer charged with damaging the computer system of a Cleveland company

Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan announced that a federal grand jury sitting in Cleveland has returned an indictment charging Davis Lu, 51, of Houston, Texas, with one count of damaging protected computers. The Defendant is accused of using his position as a software developer to execute malicious code on his employer's computer servers. The Defendant was arrested this morning without incident.

According to the indictment, the Defendant was employed as a Software 1 Senior Developer working with emerging technology for Company 1, a corporation that held its principal place of business in Cleveland, Ohio. On or about August 4, 2019, Company 1’s servers experienced a disruption that crashed production servers and prevented employees from accessing those servers.

The indictment states that Company 1 investigated the source of the disruption and discovered unauthorized code installed on a server, causing that server to create an infinite loop and crash. Furthermore, it is alleged that the company found additional code that deleted files associated with user profiles, thereby denying users access to Software 1.

The indictment states that Company 1 requested that the Defendant return his company-issued computer. It is alleged that shortly before returning the computer, the Defendant deleted encrypted volumes, attempted to delete Linux directories and attempted to delete two additional projects. Additionally, the company discovered that the Defendant had allegedly conducted internet searches on how to escalate privileges, hide processes and delete large folders and/or files.

According to the indictment, as a result of these alleged actions, Company 1 suffered a loss of at least $5,000 and damage affecting ten or more protected computers.

 An indictment is only a charge 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.

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 Cleveland Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Brian S. Deckert and Daniel J. Riedl and Senior Counsel Adrienne Rose of the Justice Department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.

Topic(s): 
Cyber Crime
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Daniel Ball Daniel.Ball@usdoj.gov
Updated April 14, 2021