Minnesota Man Stops Trial to Plead Guilty to Hacking Neighbor’s Internet to Email Threats against the Vice President
Barry Vincent Ardolf of Blaine, Minnesota pleaded guilty to hacking into his neighbor’s wireless Internet system and posing as the neighbor to make threats to kill the Vice President of the United States. Just two days into his federal trial in St. Paul, Ardolf stopped the trial to plead guilty.
Ardolf also pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of distribution of child pornography, one count of possession of child pornography, one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer, and one count of making threats to the President and successors to the presidency.
According to the US Department of Justice, in his plea agreement, Ardolf, 45 years-old, was indicted on June 23, 2010, admitted that in February of 2009, he hacked into his neighbor’s wireless Internet connection and created multiple Yahoo.com email accounts in his neighbor’s name. Then, on May 6, 2009, he used one of those accounts to email the office of the Vice President of the United States. In that email, Ardols wrote:
This is a terrorist threat! Take this seriously. I hate the way you people are spending money you don’t have.... I’m assigning myself to be judge jury and executioner. Since you folks have spent what you don’t have it’s time to pay the ultimate price. Time for new officials after you all are put to death by us....
The email, the Department of Justice says, was also sent to the Governor and a U.S. Senator from Minnesota, went on to threaten to kill the officials one at a time, with the first being dead by June 1. Ardolf signed the email with the name of the neighbor and his wife. He admitted he sent the email using the neighbor’s wireless router with the intent that the email would be traced back to the neighbor.
In addition to sending the threatening email described above, Ardolf admitted that in February of 2009, he posed as his neighbor and used the email accounts he had created to send emails of a sexual nature to three of the neighbor’s co-workers. Again, the defendant sent the emails through the neighbor’s wireless Internet connection, intending for them to be traced back to the neighbor. In one of the emails, Ardolf attached an image containing child pornography. Ardolf also admitted to creating a MySpace page using his neighbor’s name, on which he posted the same pornographic image.
Ardolf faces a potential maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the distribution of child pornography charge, ten years on the possession of child pornography charge, five years on both the unauthorized access to a computer and the threats to the Vice President charges, and a mandatory two-year minimum prison sentence on each count of aggravated identity theft. U.S.
An investigation by the Minnesota Cyber Crimes Task Force, which is sponsored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Secret Service lead to the case. A date for sentencing has not yet been determined.
Update: James Walsh at StarTribune.Com wrote a great article which provides additional details on the history of Ardolf and the relationship with his neighbor along with other details.