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Man Gets 4 Years for ID Theft, Software Piracy

A 23-year-old Oregon man was sentenced this week to four years in federal prison for using computer viruses to steal financial data from dozens of consumers. Investigators say the man used the information to set up multiple eBay and PayPal accounts, which helped him sell more than $1 million worth of pirated software.

Jeremiah Joseph Mondello, of Eugene, Ore., admitted distributing keystroke logging programs via online instant message networks. Investigators say he then used bank account credentials stolen from victims to set up more than 40 online auction accounts in the victims' names.

The judgment is almost unheard of for a non-violent crime committed by an individual with no criminal history: Mondello will serve 48 months in jail, followed by three years of supervised release and 450 hours of community service. Federal investigators also seized computers and $220,000 in cash from Mondello.

The government also is entitled to seize his three-bedroom, 1,130 square foot house and surrounding land -- currently valued at $225,000.

Half of the jail time Mondello received stems from his conviction on charges of aggravated identity theft, a crime that carries a mandatory two-year prison sentence. Mondello also was found guilty of mail fraud and copyright infringement.

The case was brought to the government's attention by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), which filed a number of lawsuits earlier this year to learn the identities behind the fraudulent eBay accounts that Mondello used to sell pirated software.

"Ultimately, the judge in this case was sending a message that this is the type of crime that is going to come with severe punishment attached," said Keith Kupferschmid, senior vice president of intellectual property at SIIA.

Given his rather sad and colorful upbringing, it will be remarkable if Mondello's case isn't eventually crafted into a made-for-television movie. Check out some of the details about his past, included in the factual background area of his case file:

Defendant's mother died almost 20 years ago, when defendant was about five years old, his older brother was about seven years old, and their sister was less than a year old. Defendant does not remember his mother at all.

A woman defendant's parents knew from New York and her 18 year old son were renting another structure on the rural property of defendant's family at the time of defendant's mother's death. The son was killed in a fatal motor vehicle accident a few weeks after the death of defendant's mother.

The grieving widower and the grieving mother soon were living together, and defendant and his siblings had a stepmother. Unbeknownst to the children, their father and stepmother became commercial marijuana growers, and were arrested and convicted of numerous felonies. The court imposed probationary sentences, and the children never found out what had happened (until years later when defendant happened to retain the same attorney who had represented their father and stepmother).

The stepmother left the home when defendant was about 14.

Mondello says he deeply regrets his crimes, and appears to be a little freaked out about the prospect of four years in the slammer. The background story continues:

Defendant, who lacked appropriate guidance as a youth, has learned a great deal in the last year or so. He suffered a serious injury from hang-gliding, and underwent surgery as a result. The experience made him recognize his fallibility and the nature of reality to a degree he had not recognized previously. He decided to cease the criminal activities which led to this case. He shut down the operation and took steps to become more involved in his brother's legitimate business activities.

Federal agents came to his home with a search warrant, seized things, and told him that he was going to be prosecuted in this case. He has gone through the proceedings associated with this case, including complete and total compliance with the conditions of his release, and knows that he will be going to prison for certain.

Defendant has accepted responsibility for his crimes. He feels tremendous remorse for what he's done. In addition, he is extremely fearful of prison, and seems to his undersigned attorney to be more openly fearful, and more openly preoccupied with what his circumstances will be when he's in prison, than virtually any other client said attorney has represented in this court since 1985.

By Brian Krebs  |  July 25, 2008; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Cyber Justice  
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"In addition, he is extremely fearful of prison..."

If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.

I'd rather see something like 10 years for this guy, but will be grateful if he does an actual 2 years.


Posted by: DLD | July 25, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Funny how this man did not think about the consequences while he was out selling one million dollars worth of pirated software and stealing peoples id's causing them mountains of grief. Prison and his type don't mix well. Oh well. Perhaps he should have started out legit and stayed legit.

Posted by: Sei Moi | July 26, 2008 2:18 AM | Report abuse

Looks like a very interesting pre-sentence report. With this background and his ceasing all criminal activities BEFORE federal agents came a knocking, his attorney should apply by way of Motion for a reduction of sentence.

UNFORTUNATELY, jail authorities see almost all sex in prison as 'voluntary,' probably meaning the defendant wanted to live [sic.]

One is not rehabilitated by forced homosexuality that is common in prison [depending on the facility] and the camps surrounding some of the major prisons do not seem to have these kind of issues.

If the sentence is not reduced, I am sure his lawyer will advocate on behalf of one of these camps as opposed to a prison, per se.

Posted by: bruce R | July 26, 2008 6:24 AM | Report abuse

As a practical matter, federal sentences are served in full less perhaps 15% good time. On a 4 year or 48 month sentence, he might get 6 months off for good behavior. Even though no longer required to do so, most federal judges follow the sentencing guidelines. One more comment. Those who easily shrug off the dangers of prison rarely know what they are talking about.
There is no such thing as a right to serve a prison sentence in safety. Good luck to him both in prison and later in life.

Posted by: AEsquire | July 26, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Sad too heard that.

Posted by: Nando | July 26, 2008 6:35 PM | Report abuse

I think that ID theft and Piracy are fairly serious crimes. But this guy is going to do more time than many convicted for far worse crimes like rape and vehicular homicide. Yes, he caused some people grief and some software companies lost a bit of money, but his crimes were non-violent. And he even quit before he was caught, so that should've at least resulted in a reduced sentence. I'm sick of people who think that jailing everybody for 10 years is the answer to everything. We already imprison more people than any other country in the world. It's shameful. And if we are going to jail people for these kinds of financial crimes, why aren't we going after the people who stole billions from American taxpayers through this whole sub-prime scam? Where's the justice in our system?

Posted by: Bob | July 27, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Well, in today's world the Internet is one of the ways in which we do business. At least, that's what I am trying to do.

I don't look at his activities as 'just a loss of a little bit of money.' He should serve as an example to the others who have yet to be caught.

If he comes out gay or closeted, who cares. Remember the theme song to "Baretta": Don't do the crime, if you can't do the time!

Posted by: umm.huh | July 28, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Mitigating circumstances? More likely, unmitigated gall on the part of his sleaze-bag attorney for all the boiler-plate BS. The guy is a crook, not just a pitiful check-kiter or or even a second-rate second-story man, but a crook who used technology to touch hundreds of lives negatively. He deserves what he gets and much, much more!

Posted by: Pete from Arlington | July 28, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Remember, he is charged with Fedral crimes, and will do time in a Federal prison. Too compare his time to a rapiist is misleading, unless you are comparing him to one serving Federal time. State time and Federal time are two very different animals. He stold a million and got four years. That works out to an income of 250,000 per year, which isn't bad. Even if he loses his house and the @220k, he still didn't do too badly for a criminal. A net profit of $137,000 per year.

Posted by: StHelens | July 28, 2008 6:45 PM | Report abuse

It is a pity that he probably have to serve even 12 months. He will be out before the people he screwed up will get their credit straightened out. Most identy theft victims have to go through at least two years of heartache and stress. The court should have made him go to all of the creditors and straighten it out for them. He is getting off way to easy

Posted by: Wendell Daar | July 29, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I imagine those 4 years (or less) will be done in a minimum security Federal facility, where Mondello's cellmates won't be hardened sexual offenders and armed robbers, but embezzlers and the like. Doing four years anywhere is no picnic, but this is hardly San Quentin. And if he still feels threatened, he can petition for protective custody.

Posted by: Jack | July 30, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

08/06/08 Today is the commemoration
of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima 63 years ago. For those of us whom remember the lessons of history,and the official ending of WW2: what do we do as Americans to protect our identities now? One whiz kid-- the 23-year-old hacker-- and Gonzalez with Secret Service credentials... an eleven
person-ring... CAN we, as Americans protect our identity?

Posted by: Tolstoy | August 6, 2008 11:00 PM | Report abuse

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