Anonymou Sabu's Get of of Jail Free Card

Bump and Update from 5/25/14: As expected, Anonymou Sabu, aka Hector Monsegur, was sentenced to time served today. The judge called his cooperation "extraordinary." See below for the link to his online postings that resulted in his bail being revoked and serving 7 months.

After three years, Anonymou Sabu, aka Hector Monsegur, will finally face a federal judge for sentencing on May 27. The infamous former member of Lulzsec and Anonymous, who agreed to cooperate the night of his arrest on June 7, 2011, agreed to plead guilty to 12 felonies in August, 2011, including nine counts related to computer hacking; one count of credit card fraud; one count of conspiring to commit bank fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft. Charges pending in four other federal districts were dropped as part of his deal. His plea agreement is here.

The maximum possible sentence for the 12 counts is 122 years. His sentencing guidelines call for a 259 to 317 months sentence (2 years of which are a mandatory minimum.) His guidelines are based on a total loss amount of $20 million to $50 million (the loss caused by his direct participation was $1.5 to $2 million).

As a reward for his cooperation, the Government is seeking no jail time -- a sentence of time served -- with the served part being 7 months he spent in pretrial detention in 2012 after he violated his plea agreement by posting online without authorization and had his bond revoked. [More....]

From the Government's sentencing memorandum, available here:

On or about May 24, 2012, the Government moved to revoke Monsegur’s bail because he made unauthorized online postings. Monsegur was arrested and remanded to custody the following day. He was released on a revised bail package on or about December 18, 2012, and has remained at liberty since that date. Accordingly, Monsegur has served approximately 7 months in prison in connection with this case.

Sabu didn't just violate his agreement once, he did it once in March, five times in April and once again in May, 2012. You can read his online postings (65 pages worth) here.

Since all the people Sabu ratted on pleaded guilty after being charged, he never even had to testify at their trials.

Other benefits to Sabu: For a time, the Government put him and some of his family members in the witness protection program.

How many big cases did Sabu make? The biggest is Jeremy Hammond, who received a ten year sentence. The Government refers to him as "the FBI’s number one cybercriminal target in the world."

All of the other cases he assisted with that resulted in guilty pleas were for persons arrested outside the U.S. (U.K and Ireland.) They include:

  • Ryan Cleary: 32 months
  • Ryan Ackroyd, a/k/a “Kayla”: 30 months (released after 10 months)
  • Jake Davis, aka "Topiary": 24 months in juvenile custody
  • Mustafa Al-Bassam, a/k/a “T-Flow": suspended sentence of 24 months
  • Darren Martyn, a/k/a “pwnsauce”: probation
  • Donncha O’Cearrbhail, a/k/a “palladium”: probation

One case he assisted with has not yet been resolved -- that of Reuters reporter Matthew Keys.

The Government also says Sabu helped prevent many attacks. And he told them about crimes he and other members of Anonymous and LulzSec committed they didn't know about.

All cooperation agreements state that the decision as to whether a defendant told the truth and deserves a request for a sentencing reward is solely up to the Government. While the actual sentence imposed is up to the judge, in cooperation cases, judges usually grant the Government's request for a lesser sentence, since they view the Government as being in a superior position to evaluate it.

What message does this sentencing recommendation send? You can commit massive fraud and violate your cooperation agreement and still receive a "get out of jail free card" for every crime you committed since kindergarten, even ones the Government didn't know about, so long as you tell the Government the truth. Of course, the truth is the truth according to the Government -- when your truth doesn't match the Government's version of the truth, there's either no reward or a much smaller one.

The biggest flaw of our criminal justice system, outside of its draconian sentences for drug crimes, is its reliance on purchased testimony -- testimony that is paid for with promises of leniency instead of money. The incentive to lie is enormous. After all, freedom is a commodity far more precious than money.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Unsettling overtones of (none / 0) (#1)
    by jtaylorr on Sun May 25, 2014 at 05:55:18 PM EST
    "Snitches get stitches" in this post (e.g. use of the word "ratted").

    no one here is advocating (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Sun May 25, 2014 at 08:43:06 PM EST
    harm come to Sabu from his proactive snitching, if that is what you are implying. Or that he acted differently than any other busted defendant in his shoes would have acted.

    My problem lies with government prosecutors, who are granted the sole discretion to choose who gets a reward and how much. Was his cooperation worth a 20 year sentence reduction, from guidelines over over 20 years down to time served? It doesn't seem like it to me. He didn't make any huge cases, and it doesn't seem like he has been much of a deterrent to computer hackers. Anonymous is hardly out of business.


    Even before (none / 0) (#3)
    by ragebot on Tue May 27, 2014 at 07:28:20 PM EST
    Prosecutors get to pick and choose who gets rewarded and how much they get to pick and choose who gets prosecuted.

    Instead of 'he who will remain unnamed' I will mention the recent case of the FSU football player who was accused of rape but had the SA decline to indite.  While I complete agree with that based on the lack of evidence and a less than credible accuser the same SA had prosecuted a former FSU player for rape resulting in a not guilty verdict, again with slim evidence and a less than credible accuser.

    I am sure we can all point out instances of folks being or not being prosecuted that seem to be a great injustice.


    finding of fact (none / 0) (#4)
    by thomas rogan on Wed May 28, 2014 at 08:44:35 PM EST
    Is anyone disputing the FBI's statement that Jeremy Hammond was the FBI's "number one wanted cybercriminal in the world"?  If this is true, then surely it is worth releasing someone charged with a nonviolent crime to get Hammond.

    Lots of folks are disputing the FBI (none / 0) (#5)
    by ragebot on Thu May 29, 2014 at 02:12:17 PM EST
    As far as I know Hammond was only charged with nonviolent crimes, unless you want to count banging a drum at a demonstration as violence.  While I can understand how banging a drum could drive someone like me to violence I don't think Hammond deserves to be at the top of the FBI's cyber crime list.

    What about all the CC fraud guys for starters.  What Hammond did was basically to break into secure systems and in some cases release data.  Maybe the FBI needs to spend more time looking in to crimes that hurt real people instead of looking at crimes that embarrass pols.  Especially since most polls are capable of embarrassing themselves with no help from guys like Hammond.