'Soupnazi' Hacker Albert Gonzalez Faces 15 to 25 Years at Sentencing Tomorrow
A federal judge in Boston is set to sentence Miami's own superhacker, Albert Gonzalez, tomorrow for leading what prosecutors call the largest identity theft ring ever busted.
Gonzalez, who pleaded guilty in September to 19 counts, faces 15 to 25 years for stealing millions of credit card numbers from national stores.
The sentencing marks the end of a wild story for the hacker -- who went by the online handles soupnazi, segvec, and cumbajohnny.
Gonzalez worked for years as a federal informant, helping to bust other online fraud rings, even as he was stealing more than 41 million cards on his own. When the feds moved to arrest him, they found $1.1 million in cash buried in his parents' back yard and a stash of guns and $400,000 inside his South Beach hotel room.
In a motion filed Monday, one of the hacker's lawyers says the judge should keep Gonzalez's sentence at 15 years. Attorney Martin Weinberg -- who has argued that Gonzalez was addicted to the Internet, drugs, and alcohol and that he might have Asperger's syndrome -- says a longer prison term wouldn't fit the crime.
"This is not the classic identity theft case in which... data is used to recreate the identities of real people and thereafter use those fabricted [sic] identities to invade their bank accounts, withdraw money, and ruin their credit," Weinberg writes. "He did not hack into government computer systems, he did not crash computer systems by spreading viruses or inundating them with spam, and he did not invade the privacy of individuals computers."
But prosecutors counter that what Gonzalez did do -- taking millions of credit card numbers and then reselling them -- deserves a hefty sentence.
"If imposed, the sentences would be the longest ever imposed in an identity theft case and among the longest imposed for a financial crime, which is appropriate because Gonzalez was at the center of the largest and most costly series of identity thefts in the nation's history," U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz writes in a filing from last week.