Former U.S. Coast Guard IT operator sentenced for stealing information from computers
A computer technician who stole sexually explicit photographs, videos and personal information from hundreds of computers and personal electronic devices he repaired as a civilian contractor for the U.S. Coast Guard and at his Pawcatuck computer repair business was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court to three years of probation.
Larry Mathews, 35, owner of A Team Computer Service, had pleaded guilty in November 2014 to one count of computer intrusion in furtherance of a tortious invasion of privacy.
At the sentencing in Hartford on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny ordered that Mathews be electronically monitored and be home from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. for the first four months of his probation and that he pay a fine of $5,000.
According to the court documents, Mathews operated his business since 2002 and worked as a help-desk technician for the U.S. Coast Guard from April 2008 to April 2013, servicing computers and cellphones for students and staff at the Coast Guard Academy.
On more than 250 occasions, Mathews copied personal information from devices, including account names and passwords for email and social media accounts and sexually explicit photographs and videos.
According to the government, Mathews shared the stolen information only with co-workers, one of whom reported the activity to law enforcement in 2013.
In a sentencing memorandum, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward Chang and Carolyn Ikari had called for a punishment above the zero to six months of incarceration recommended under federal sentencing guidelines because of the number of victims.
“Although there is no evidence that the defendant distributed the photographs or videos on the Internet, he acknowledged showing them to his co-workers,” the memorandum says. “The defendant violated the privacy of hundreds of individuals for no reason other than personal gratification.”
Defense attorney William F. Dow III had argued that Mathews should not be incarcerated and should be sentenced only to probation. Noting Mathews committed a nonviolent crime, Dow said that Mathews, now a convicted felon who lost his contracting job and whose private business has suffered, “now has, probably better than anyone similarly situated in the computer repair business, a deep and abiding appreciation of the privacy rights of those who own computers.”
“Suffice it to say it is not uncommon that those engaged in computer repair often ‘wander’ into the interstices of the devices they receive, far beyond what is needed to effect necessary repairs,” Dow wrote.
“In short, computer repairers look at the private areas in computers given to them for repair.”