CEO sentenced for trashing client's Web site

The attack put the wine retailer Vinado out of business

The CEO of a Seattle-area consulting company was sentenced to three months of home confinement Thursday for destroying a client's Web site following a contract dispute.

Minecode CEO Pradyumna Samal will also serve 288 hours of community service and three years of probation, the U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday.

A project manager with the company, Sandeep Verma, got a one-year probation sentence and was ordered to perform 40 hours of community service.

Minecode, of Bellevue, Washington, had built the online gift shop for wine retailer Vinado, but things soured in late 2006. According to the Department of Justice, things got so bad between the two companies that Samal ordered Verma to disable Vinado's online gift shop.

The next month Samal "caused commands to be transmitted to Vinado's Web site that resulted in the deletion of Vinado's Web site, e-mail server and database in its entirety," the DoJ said.

Samal and Verma pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of computer intrusion. The two men had been facing prison time.

They were sentenced by U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Theiler in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, in Seattle.

Minecode has agreed to pay Vinado US$120,000 for damages associated with the incident, and was fined a further $144,000, the DoJ said.

Vinado went out of business and its owners lost their home following the incident, the DoJ said, citing a victim impact statement by Vinado partner Seth Micarelli.

"This crime devastated and destroyed our company and all of the participants," he said. "An online store holding thousands of customer records simply cannot survive its complete destruction and the violation of those customer records. We did what we could afterwards to salvage it, but this act was a fatal blow to Vinado."

The Vinado Web site is still online but is no longer in working order.

Founded in 2001 by Samal, a former Microsoft program manager, Minecode works with businesses and governments worldwide.

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Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
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