[ISN] Accused hacker's remarks stricken

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Thu Jan 27 02:25:02 EST 2005


January 25, 2005

A Florida man's alleged admission to two business associates that he
stole information about millions of people from Acxiom Corp. cannot be
admitted in his coming trial, a U.S. District Court judge ruled

Scott Levine, former chief executive officer of Boca Raton bulk e-mail
firm Snipermail.com Inc., will go on trial in March in Little Rock.  
He was indicted in July and faces 144 counts related to his reported
hacking into Acxiom's databases and downloading private information,
such as credit card data, about millions of consumers.

A U.S. District Attorney at Levine's indictment by a Little Rock jury
in July said the incident "may be the largest intrusion of personal
data ever."

Monday's ruling will prevent the jury from hearing two of Levine's
former associates, Magdiel Castro and Jeff Richman, recount an August
2003 conversation the three had with Levine's lawyer, David Garvin.  
Much of the talk during the 45-minute car ride between Garvin's Miami
law office and Snipermail offices in Boca Raton is also now off

Judge Bill Wilson Jr. ruled Monday that anything Levine said in
Garvin's office, shortly after Levine discovered he was under
investigation, was still subject to attorney-client privilege. At the
time both men believed Levine's lawyer might represent them in a joint
defense, Wilson said.

Castro, Snipermail's president, and Richman, a company vice president,
hired other attorneys, and eventually joined the government's case
against Levine.

Richman testified Monday that Levine was distraught after learning he
was under investigation. "He put his head in his hands and said, '
I've been downloading all of this information, '"" Richman said,
before Wilson ordered the comment stricken from the record on the
objection of Garvin, who represented Levine on Monday.

For the rest of their testimony, Richman and Castro generally avoided
the specifics of the case, though both made it clear on several
occasions that Levine admitted guilt. "It's a game. I'm addicted to
it, and I couldn't stop," Levine said in the car, according to Castro.

Wilson said he would allow one of Levine's Aug. 7, 2003, comments into
the trial, as well as anything Richman and Levine witnessed after the
ride back to Boca Raton.

The comment that Wilson allowed was that on the ride home, Levine
said, "If there was no data, there was no crime," according to

Once they reached Snipermail, Richman and Castro said they helped hide
computers by placing them in Snipermail's basement. Levine told them
the computers contained incriminating evidence, the two men said.

Wilson also struck Richman's testimony that Garvin hinted that Levine
should destroy any stolen data. "I've never had a situation like what
Richman pulled today," Garvin said immediately after taking the stand
Monday as a witness. "Often a very weak case becomes a very strong
case when the client does something illegal when he's under

Wilson said he believed Garvin's side of the story. "It would put the
defendant's lawyer on trial rather than the defendant," Wilson said.

But he said he was less inclined to delay the start of the trial,
after Garvin said he needed at least 30 more days to analyze the data
the government found on Snipermail computers. "Some of the data came
corrupted... and my computer expert is ill and in the hospital,"  
Garvin said.

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