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Press Release

Former Network Engineer Pleads Guilty To Crashing Employer's Computer System

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia

Defendant faces prison time; must repay EnerVest for damage to computer system

CHARLESTON – United States Attorney Booth Goodwin announced today that a former network engineer at Charleston-based EnerVest Operating pleaded guilty to intentionally causing damage to his employer’s computer system.  Ricky Joe Mitchell, 34, now of Mableton, GA, admitted that in June of 2012, shortly after he learned that he was going to be fired, he remotely accessed EnerVest’s computer system and reset the network servers to factory settings.  As a result of his intentional conduct, EnerVest was unable to fully communicate or conduct business operations for approximately 30 days.  In addition, data that the company thought had been backed up could not be retrieved.

“In 2014, it goes without saying that any business’s electronic communication capabilities and data storage are nearly as important to its success as the product or service it provides,” said U.S. Attorney Goodwin.  “The prosecution of Mr. Mitchell for his reckless conduct underscores my commitment to help protect small businesses from any threat – both inside and out.” 

Mitchell will be sentenced by the Honorable John T. Copenhaver, Jr. on April 24, 2014 to a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years and three years supervised release.  Mitchell will also be ordered to pay restitution for the damage caused by his criminal conduct.     

The U.S. Secret Service conducted the investigation.  United States Attorney Goodwin and Assistant United States Attorney Thomas C. Ryan are handling the prosecution.  

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin announced the Business Protection Initiative in November 2010.  Business protection is a primary initiative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office that focuses on prosecuting individuals who defraud West Virginia businesses.

Updated January 7, 2015