Melissa programmer freed on bail

Grand Jury trial to follow shortly

Alleged cyber desperado David L Smith was hauled into a US courtroom yesterday to face the charge of masterminding the Melissa virus. Smith, a former computer programmer, appeared at Monmouth County Court, Freehold, New Jersey, accused of interruption of public communications, conspiracy and theft of computer services. The Web's most-wanted man was freed on $100,000 bail but is due to face a Grand Jury. Smith faces a maximum four-year jail sentence and $480,000 fine if convicted. He refused to speak to reporters following the 15-minute hearing. The Melissa virus -- believed to be named after a topless dancer in Florida, but really a reference to comedy terrorist Bart Simpson -- has been wreaking havoc on systems, clogging e-mail accounts and disrupting PC networks since March (see earlier story). ®

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