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Wi-Fi hack threat man pleads guilty

US neighbourhood feud turns nasty

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A US man has pleaded guilty to hacking into his neighbour's wireless network before setting up counterfeit webmail accounts in the innocent man's name and sending death threats against the Vice President, Joe Biden.

Barry Vincent Ardolf of Blaine, Minnesota, 45, admitted the crimes two days into his trial.

As part of a plea bargaining agreement, Ardolf admitted possession of child porn, computer hacking, aggravated identity theft, and making death threats.

The middle-aged miscreant also sent email messages to three of his target's co-workers using the counterfeit email address he established. One of these emails contained images of child abuse. For good measure, Ardolf established a MySpace account featuring the same pornographic content.

The Minneapolis-St Paul Star-Tribune has more background on the case, which apparently started after the neighbour complained to the police about Ardolf's inappropriate behaviour towards his four year old son. Ardolf, a former computer technician at Medtronic, took elaborate steps to implicate his neighbour but overstepped himself in sending the executive branch death threat. The neighbour's wireless network was already being closely monitored by private investigators hired by the neighbour.

Ardolf faces a lengthy spell inside for his varied crimes including a mandatory two-year minimum prison sentence on each count of aggravated identity theft and up to five years for sending threatening messages against the Vice President and the computer hacking offences. The distribution of child porn charges carry a tariff of up to 20 years behind bars, though the circumstances of the case would seem to suggest punishment towards the lower end of this scale.

The case was jointly investigated by the FBI-Sponsored Minnesota Cyber Crimes Task Force and the US Secret Service, as a DoJ statement explains. ®

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