An Ohio man who hacked into police websites — including in Utah — will spend three years in prison, a federal judge in Salt Lake City said Thursday.
John Anthony Borell III, who was associated with a group of hacker activists known as “Anonymous,” also will be required to pay restitution of $226,736. The sentence also resolves charges brought against Borell in California, Missouri and New York.
In a plea agreement with prosecutors, Borell, 22, admitted that on Jan. 19, 2012, he hacked into the Utah Chiefs of Police Association’s website and then publicly bragged that the site’s security had been compromised. Less than two weeks later, he hacked into the Salt Lake City Police Department website, accessing complaints about drug crimes and other information, and again publicized the breach.
The hacker group claimed the attack was in response to an anti-graffiti paraphernalia bill then before the Utah Legislature. The Salt Lake City Police Department took the site offline for three months after the breach, relaunching a new, revamped website in April 2012.
In February 2012, Borell hacked into the websites of the police department in Syracuse, New York; the city of Springfield, Missouri; and the Los Angeles County Police Canine Association. The police department’s website was temporarily unable to complete services related to missing persons and criminal complaints, while Borell tapped into a “great deal” of personal information at the other two websites.
Though not part of the charges, Borell also admitted he hacked into the pendletonunderground.com website based in northern Illinois, where he retrieved and posted information about thousands of users of the site.
Borell used the pseudonyms “ItsKahuna,” “anonjb” and “spectre,” according to court documents. He was arrested at his home in Toledo in March 2012.
U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby agreed to allow the newly married Borell to travel to California to meet his wife’s family, and also gave Borell until Dec. 6 to report to prison so he can spend the Thanksgiving holiday with them. He asked to serve his sentence at a prison in Michigan, but the placement decision is up to the federal Bureau of Prisons.
Shelby said he had read about Borell’s “unusual” background with ”great interest and sadness,” but neither the judge nor court documents shed light on what he meant.
But according to a Toledo Blade story, Borell had a traumatic childhood. Two siblings died before their first birthdays and his mother, Kellyanne Borell, was accused of killing a third infant in 1995. Kellyanne Borell committed suicide in 1996 before the case went to trial, according to the newspaper. His father and grandfather are both attorneys in Toledo.
When Shelby asked whether his new relationship was providing long-needed support, Borell answered, “Absolutely.” He did not make a formal statement during the brief hearing.
Shelby said he hopes access to programs and treatment in prison will provide Borell a “new chapter, a new start and I hope it goes well for you.”
Borell, dressed in gray suit, hot pink shirt and black and pink striped tie, declined to comment after the hearing as he left the courthouse with his wife.