Friday a Minnesota man pleaded guilty to hacking into his neighbor's wireless home network and posing as the neighbor to send threatening emails to Vice President Joe Biden, Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar.
St. Paul, Minnesota-based Star Tribune reports that a dispute between Barry Ardolf and his neighbor Matt Kostolnik began back in 2008 after Kostolnik reported to police that Ardolf picked up his four-year-old son and kissed him. Although Kostolnik didn't press formal charges, he and his wife said they only wanted to keep their distance.
The report goes on to claim that an enraged Ardolf carried out a plan to exact revenge by using a password-cracking program to hack into Kostolnik's wireless router. Once he gained access to the network, he set up a fake email account using Kostolnik's name and sent emails-- one containing images of child pornography and one containing "sexually suggestive" language-- to Kostolnik's co-workers and boss.
The vindictive plot didn't stop there. He also used the fake email account to create a fake Kostolnik-based MySpace page which also contained a child porn image. He later he tried to frame Kostolnik by creating another fake email account using a particular woman's name and sent an email to Kostolnik's law firm, claiming that Kostolnik assaulted her although a sexual incident with the real woman never happened.
Ardolf was finally caught after sending Kostolnik-based emails to the three government officials.
The Star Tribune said that police raided Ardolf's house and discovered more than a dozen computers and dozens of storage devices. These produced incriminating evidence including detailed notes of e-mail addresses, text of emails that had already been sent, passwords and photographs. Ardolf was confronted with the evidence last summer and a plea deal was arranged, however he changed his mind. Officials then charged him with child porn offenses, and he now faces a maximum of 44 years in prison.
Friday Ardolf pleaded guilty to charges of identity theft, threats, and possession and transmission of child pornography. Matt Kostolnik told reporters that he was glad Ardolf accepted responsibility for what he had done.
"It was terrible what we went through," Matt Kostolnik said outside the courtroom Friday. "I wouldn't want anyone to have to go through what we did. I think what he did today was right."