A Minnesota man pleaded guilty Thursday he hacked into state government databases in 2017 as an act of retaliation.
Cameron Thomas Crowley, 20, apologized for his actions as he pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of intentional access to a protected computer. As part of the plea agreement, four other counts against him will be dismissed.
Prosecutors and Crowley’s attorney agreed to a sentence of five years probation, but the count allows for a maximum penalty of one year in prison and his sentence will ultimately be up to a judge. The plea agreement also said the estimated amount of loss is between $40,000 and $90,000, but there was no agreement on how much Crowley will have to repay his victims. He will be sentenced July 17.
Crowley admitted he conducted the attack an officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a 2016 traffic stop ended up acquitted in a trial.
Crowley, of Lino Lakes, said he used the screen name “Vigilance” as he attacked government databases, including one that contained identifying information of hundreds of students and employees at an university. Crowley admitted he posted a link to that information onto a known hacking website, where it could be accessed by others.
He also admitted he hacked into databases owned by the Minnesota government, a second university and an unnamed school district. Some of the information that was compromised in the various attacks included individuals’ names, home and work addresses, telephone numbers and password information.
“I would like to apologize publicly to the people who were affected by my actions,” Crowley told the court. “At the time, I thought what I was doing would draw attention to an injustice. But looking back, I realize that it hurt more people, and people who had nothing to do with the tragic death of Philando Castile.”