Former IT Admin Gets Four Years For Locking City Of San Francisco Out Of Its Network

Attorney says Terry Childs will appeal guilty verdict

Dark Reading Staff, Dark Reading

August 10, 2010

2 Min Read

A former IT administrator for the city of San Francisco who refused to hand over administrative passwords to the city's network has been sentenced to four years in state prison.

Terry Childs was convicted in April of violating California's hacking laws after he refused to hand over administrative control to the city's FiberWAN network in July 2008.

According to a BusinessWeek report, Childs was sentenced Friday by Judge Teri Jackson, according to Erica Derryck, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco district attorney's office.

Although the city's network continued to run during the 12 days Childs refused to hand over control, jurors found that by denying the city the administrative control to its own network, he had violated state law.

Childs defended his actions during a long court trial, according to the report, saying he was only doing his job, and that his supervisor, Department of Technology and Information Services chief operations officer Richard Robinson, was unqualified to have access to the passwords. Childs eventually handed over the passwords to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Prosecutors characterized the former network administrator as a power hungry control freak who couldn't be managed.

Childs' attorney, Richard Shikman, says the guilty verdict will be appealed. "He clearly is not a hacker. The state's case is based on a theory which needs to be tested on appeal," he told a reporter via e-mail. "The case stands as a metaphor for both human folly and human achievement."

Childs has already spent more than two years in jail, so he could be paroled within the next four to six months. He may also have to cover the city's $900,000 bill, spent on trying to regain control of its network. A hearing on financial penalties is set for Aug. 13, according to BusinessWeek.

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