A college student Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to hacking the city’s mayor and selling his stolen emails.
Justin Bodnar, 29, pleaded guilty to a felony count of illegally accessing a protected computer during a hearing held before District Judge James M. Munley in Scranton federal court, resolving a hacking case reportedly centered around Tom Leighton, Wilkes-Barre’s mayor from 2004 to 2016.
Bodnar was charged in 2016 in connection with hacking email accounts belonging to an individual identified in court documents as as “T.L,” obtaining that person’s correspondence and selling a copy of those messages for $500.
The buyer of the stolen emails was Mark Robbins, a local blogger critical of the Leighton administration who alerted the authorities prior to making the purchase as part of a FBI-monitored sting operation, Wilkes-Barre’s Times Leader newspaper reported.
Mr. Robbins confirmed to reporters that Mr. Leighton, a Democrat, was the individual identified as “T.L.” in Bodnar’s indictment, according to the newspaper.
He bought a DVD containing copies of the mayor’s stolen emails using money provided to him by FBI agents, and Bodnar was subsequently arrested after the exchange and taken into custody, the newspaper reported.
Bodnar and his attorney, Brandon Reish, declined to comment following Friday’s hearing, the newspaper reported.
He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he’s sentenced in the case, according to his plea agreement. He remains free on bail pending a yet-to-be-scheduled sentencing hearing.
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