A Weblog About Topics and Issues Discussed in the Book Spam Kings by Brian McWilliams

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August 17, 2005

Smathers sentenced

Jason SmathersThe former AOL employee who stole the online services' member database and sold it to spammers has been sentenced to 15 months in prison.

A contrite Jason Smathers reportedly said in a letter to the court, "Cyberspace is a new and strange place. I was good at navigating in that frontier and I became an outlaw.”

Restitution is still to be decided by U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein. AOL claims it lost $400,000 as a result of Smather's crime. The judge has suggested a more appropriate figure is $84,000.

The judge seemed to miss one key point. Smathers' actions basically opened the spam floodgates at AOL for years to come. Once those addresses are circulating in the spammer underground, you can't get them back. It's like trying to put toothpaste back into the tube.

Spam Kings readers know that Davis Hawke and Brad Bournival were among the spammers who purchased copies of the AOL database. (Hawke also attempted to sell the data to other spammers.) Bournival went on to play a key role as an informant in the government's case.

Smathers will report to the minimum-security prison in Pensacola. Florida to begin his sentence on September 19. Pensacola Federal Prison Camp

The facility, which has reportedly been referred to as a Club Fed, features "a great exercise room, and boasts bocce ball and pool tables," according to one report.

But it's still pretty Spartan, according to one account: "Inmates must wear institutional green pants and numbered shirts and work boots. They share communal toilets and showers. Their three meals a day consist of food that costs the government $2.60 a day per inmate."

Posted by brian at August 17, 2005 2:57 PM


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