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Press Release

Former El Paso-Based Production Company Employee Sentenced to Federal Prison for Computer Intrusion

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Texas

In El Paso today, a federal judge sentenced 42-year-old Joe Vito Venzor to 18 months in federal prison for illegally accessing his former employer’s computer system and shutting it down announced United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr., and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie, Jr., El Paso Division.


In addition to the prison term, Senior United States District Judge David Briones ordered that Venzor pay $57,397.76 restitution and be placed on supervised release for a period of three years after completing his prison term.


On March 30, 2017, Venzor pleaded guilty to one count of transmission of a program to cause damage to a computer. By pleading guilty, Venzor admitted that on September 1, 2016, after termination from his position at the company’s help desk, he logged onto the company’s network through an administrator account and shut down the company’s email server and application server while deleting systems files essential to restoring computer operations.


Because of the intrusion, 300 employees in the production and shipping factory were unable to work for nearly three hours before the decision was made to send them home for the rest of the shift. The distribution center was not able to ship any of their products and customers could not place orders online. The IT Managing Director also had to hire a third party IT staff to assist with setting up a new application server for the company. The company continued to suffer direct and indirect losses because of the intrusion into its computer server in the ensuing days and weeks, as they had to reconstruct files, and fulfill production and customer services issues.


“The FBI El Paso Division stands ready to work closely with our public and private sector partners to identify, pursue, and prosecute those who gain unauthorized access to proprietary data and threaten our cyber security,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie, Jr., El Paso Division.


Assistant United States Attorneys Greg McDonald and Rifian Newaz prosecuted this case on behalf of the Government.


Updated July 19, 2017