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Eighth Circuit Affirms Enhanced Sentence for Blaine Hacker

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on July 06, 2012 4:01 PM

Hackers can do hard time, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed on Thursday.

This isn't just a tale of hacking, but a bizarre conflict between neighbors. And it brings into question the enhancement of sentences, under the United States Sentencing Guidelines.

Earlier this week, the appeals court affirmed an 18-year prison sentence for a Blaine hacker, Barry Vincent Ardolf, reports the Pioneer Press.

In 2010, Ardolf was indicted on charges related to tormenting his neighbors via the Internet. The conflict began when one of his neighbor's children walked into Ardolf's yard and began playing a game of chase. He returned the child and kissed the child (allegedly on the mouth), causing the parents to panic and call the police.

That set Ardolf off and he began using the family's wireless router to set up email accounts in their name. Using that email address, he sent death threats and vulgar messages to elected officials. He also sent vulgar email to the neighbor's employer and colleagues.

During the course of his trial, Ardolf withdrew his not guilty plea and pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft, possession and transmission of child pornography, unauthorized access to a protected computer, and making threats to the vice president.

He subsequently tried to revoke his guilty plea and said that his attorney coerced him into entering the plea. The district judge denied Ardolf's request, saying that his plea had been entered voluntarily.

On appeal, Ardolf challenged his sentence under the United States Sentencing Guidelines. Specifically, he raised the argument that his sentence was unreasonably enhanced.

The sentencing enhancement was based on two things-- first, his obstruction of justice and second, the amount of child pornography found on his computer. The district court found that Ardolf had perjured himself in withdrawing his guilty plea. He further tried to solicit false testimony from his relatives.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the district court and affirmed the sentencing.

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