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More guilty pleas in huge data breach cases
BOSTON (12/31/09)--As expected, more guilty pleas were entered in a federal court in Boston by a Florida computer hacker charged in the data breaches at Heartland Payment Systems, Hannaford Brothers grocery chain, 7-Eleven stores and two unidentified companies. Albert Gonzalez, 28, of Miami, who led the waves of attacks that affected thousands of credit union members and hundreds of credit unions--as well as other consumers--over a three year period, made his third and final plea, the result of a plea bargain (Wired.com Dec. 29). He pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to computers and to commit wire fraud. Prosecutors agreed to seek a sentence of no more than 25 years, and Gonzalez has agreed to ask the court for no less than 17 years in prison. Sentencing in the case, what prosecutors call the largest identity theft scheme in U.S. history, was set for March 19. He already faces 15 to 25 years from two earlier federal cases related to intrusions of TJX Cos. and Dave & Buster's restaurants. The TJX case also affected a number of credit unions and members. Sentencing for the earlier cases is scheduled for March 18. Prosecutors are asking that the sentences in the three cases run concurrently.
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