California Telescope Enthusiast Sentenced to Prison for Cyber Attack
OKLAHOMA CITY – DAVID CHESLEY GOODYEAR, 44, of El Segundo, California, has been sentenced to 26 months in prison for directing distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) cyber attacks against two websites owned by Oklahoma telescope retailer Astronomics in August 2016, announced Robert J. Troester of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In August 2017, a federal grand jury charged Goodyear with attacking the websites of Astronomics, a family-owned telescope retailer in Norman, Oklahoma. He instigated a DDoS cyber attack, in which the perpetrator floods the victim’s computer with useless information from botnets—large clusters of connected devices infected with malware and controlled remotely—and prevents access by legitimate users.
On February 15, 2018, after two days of trial, a jury returned a guilty verdict. The evidence showed that Astronomics operated the world’s largest free astronomy forum on the internet, called Cloudy Nights, and that Goodyear had been a registered user on the site under a variety of aliases. Each of Goodyear’s usernames and his primary IP address had been banned for violating the terms of service of Cloudy Nights, including sending threats to other users, administrators, and moderators.
The jury heard that Goodyear attempted to access Cloudy Nights as "JamesSober" on August 13, 2016, but his access to the online community was denied because his "JamesSober" account had been banned on August 9, 2016. Goodyear then posted messages on Cloudy Nights under a new alias, "HawaiiAPUser," including pornography and profanity directed at Astronomics and the volunteer administrators and moderators of Cloudy Nights. In the posts, he threatened that he would "talk with [his] contacts and just DOS this site as well as A55tronomics." Evidence further showed that DDoS attacks against Astronomics and Cloudy Nights began that night and continued intermittently until the end of August 2016, when law enforcement interviewed Goodyear, who admitted he was responsible for the attacks.
On December 3, 2018, Chief U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton sentenced Goodyear to 26 months in the federal Bureau of Prisons, followed by three years of supervised release. He was ordered to pay $27,352.51 in restitution to Astronomics, which represents lost profits and mitigation costs. The court also fined him $2,500.00. Judge Heaton explained the punishment by pointing out Goodyear’s clear intent to harm Astronomics and the importance of deterring sophisticated cybercrimes, which are difficult to trace and therefore particularly important to punish and thereby send the appropriate message to others.
This sentence is the result of an investigation by the FBI, with support from the United States Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force in Los Angeles, which includes personnel from the Los Angeles Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys K. McKenzie Anderson and William E. Farrior.
Reference is made to public filings for further information.