Student who hacked Bill O'Reilly gets 30 months

The prosecution asked for a tougher sentence after the defendant lied about his synthetic cannabis business

A 23-year-old Bellevue, Ohio, man has been sentenced to 30 months in prison following a 2007 online crime spree in which he used a network of hacked computers to attack and knock offline websites belonging to conservative pundits Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter.

Mitchell Frost must also pay $US40,000 in restitution to O'Reilly and $10,000 to the University of Akron, where he was enrolled at the time of the hacking. He had pleaded guilty to the charges in May.

Frost was a first-year student at the university at the time of the attacks. He used the school's computer network to control a botnet he'd built up between August 2006 and March 2007, and launched denial of service (DOS) attacks against Rudy Giuliani's Joinrudy2008.com website, Billoreilly.com and Anncoulter.com. He attacked the Bill O'Reilly site five times, ultimately forcing it offline.

The University of Akron was disrupted too, when Frost knocked its network offline for eight-and-a-half hours while trying to DOS-attack a gaming server hosted by the university. That happened on March 14, 2007. Frost's dorm room was raided two weeks later. He wasn't charged, however, until May of this year.

Prosecutors asked the court for a tough sentence after Frost lied to his probation officer about an online business he'd set up following his arrest. In a letter to the court, Frost said he set up the Discountjwh.com website earlier this year after quitting his job as a Stanley Steemer carpet cleaning technician. JWH is a form of synthetic cannabis that is legal for sale in some U.S. states, including Ohio.

Frost said he was selling the product as a bonsai plant fertilizer and never meant for it to be consumed by humans. He said that he lied to his probation officer in a moment of panic.

"I thought that if they see I am making this money through my online business [and] if I were to go away to prison they would want it all as a penalty," he wrote in his letter.

Frost was sentenced Thursday by Judge Lesley Wells of the Northern District of Ohio. He must serve three years' probation after his 30-month sentence.

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert's e-mail address is robert_mcmillan@idg.com

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