Hacker Monsegur aka Sabu's Plea Agreement Released

Thanks to Reuters legal correspondent Basil Katz for publishing the plea agreement and transcript of guilty plea hearing for Anonymous/LulzSec hacker-turned-informant Hector Monsegur, aka Sabu.

Sabu's plea agreement is "global", meaning it is binding on all 94 U.S. Attorney's offices. No other federal district can charge him with other crimes (excluding criminal tax violations, as are typically excluded.)

Sabu won't be federally charged for any other past crimes he voluntarily disclosed, although the court can consider them as relevant conduct at sentencing. These include attempts to sell pounds of pot, hooking up buyers of marijuana and prescription drugs to potential sellers from 2009 to 2011, racking up $15,000 worth of unauthorized charges on his employer's credit card, purchase of stolen jewelry and electronics, and possession of a handgun. And any other uncharged hacking offenses committed between 1999 and 2010. [More...]

There's been speculation that Sabu may have tried to warn some people or help them while he was cooperating -- such as by passing along passwords to access hacked files (See Sabu and Havittaja chatlog on Jan. 24.) I doubt it. The plea agreement contains this sentence:

Moreover, any assistance the defendant may provide to federal criminal investigators shall be pursuant to the specific instructions and control of this Office and designated investigators.

If he violate any provision of the Agreement, he can be prosecuted for all offenses of which the Government has knowledge, including perjury and obstruction of justice. It can use his statements made during cooperation against him, and it doesn't have to file a motion to reduce his sentence -- and he can't withdraw his guilty plea.

In addition, if the Government believes he has violated any term of his agreement, it can move to revoke his bail without notice and he has to consent to it.

In other words, anything he does under the guise of cooperation must be pursuant to direction of his handlers or his deal is off.

As to what sentence he'll receive if he complies with all terms, the Government leaves it open. But I disagree with Ars Technica that he's guaranteed a two year sentence. It's possible he won't go to prison at all. While Count 12 (aggravated identity theft) carries a 2 year mandatory minimum sentence, the Government states if he fulfills the terms of his agreement, it will file a motion asking that the mandatory minimum not apply. Page 9 of the Plea Agreement states:

In addition, if this Office determines that the defendant has provided substantial assistance in an investigation or prosecution, and if he has fully complied with the understandings specified in this Agreement, this Office will file a motion, pursuant to Section 5K1.1 of the Sentencing Guidelines and 18 U.S.C. 3553(e), requesting the Court to sentence the defendant in light of the factors set forth in Section 5Kl. 1 (a)(l)-(5), and without regard to any otherwise applicable mandatory minimum sentence . (My emphasis.)

18 USC Sec. 3553 (e) is the statute that allows a judge to go below the mandatory minimum for cooperation:

(e) Upon motion of the Government, the court shall have the authority to impose a sentence below a level established by statute as a minimum sentence so as to reflect a defendant's substantial assistance in the investigation or prosecution of another person who has committed an offense. Such sentence shall be imposed in accordance with the guidelines and policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission pursuant to section 994 of title 28, United States Code.

At the guilty plea hearing, the court must advise the defendant of the maximum sentence he can receive. It doesn't mean the maximum (or as here, the mandatory minimum) will be imposed. While it's hard to imagine Sabu will get a total walk, it is a possibility under the plea agreement.

I wonder how many cases the FBI will make from Sabu's proactive cooperation. What was the purpose of him offering passwords related to hacks of Brazilian information to Havittaja. Sabu wrotes:

Sabu: I can give you the xml file with all passwords.
Sabu: want them?
Havittaja: hm... sure

Sabu says he also offered them to lala/hard366. Havittaja says he'll wait since he's working with evilc0de. Sabu then supplies them anyway. EvilcOde, who has since learned of this, doesn't sound happy.

Are they going to extradite Havittaja and Evilc0de from Brazil? Like our jails aren't full enough?

< Friday Morning Open Thread | Hacker Monsegur aka Sabu In His "Own" Words >
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  • Display: Sort:
    Sabu appears to be a really (none / 0) (#1)
    by fishcamp on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 08:48:09 PM EST
    bad guy that has a 12 count indictment against him for computer hacking and conspiracy, bank fraud, identify theft, stealing engine parts, credit card fraud, handgun possession, buying stolen jewelry and electronics , dealing in marijuana, and prescription drugs, and then becomes a snitch while continuing these activities and can be sentenced below the minimum guidelines.  How can this happen?  I don't get it.

    Acutally, (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 10:06:32 PM EST
    the charges he pleaded guilty to are:

    Count 1-3: Conspiracy to engage in computer hacking as part of Anonymous, Internet Feds and LulzSec, maximum 10 years per count

    Counts 4-8 : Substantive Computer Hacking (HB Gary, Fox, Sony Pictures, PBS, Infraguard (Atlanta), maximum 10 years per count

    Count 9: Computer Hacking in Furtherance of Fraud, (auto parts company),maximum 5 years

    Count 10: Conspiracy to Commit Credit Card Fraud, maximum 7 ½ years

    Count 11: Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud, maximum 30 years

    Count 12: Aggravated Identity Theft, mandatory minimum consecutive 2 year sentence

    He's not going to be charged with the handgun possession, buying stolen jewelry and electronics or dealing in marijuana, and prescription drugs, Those are things he told them about that he's getting a pass for, except the court can consider them at sentencing. Sorry if that wasn't clear.