The former LulzSec hacker that turned in his colleagues to the FBI will forego sentencing for another six months while he continues to assist the government in catching supposed computer criminals.
As RT reported last week, Hector Xavier Monsegur, the man behind the hacker alias “Sabu,” was absent from federal court on Friday despite previously being scheduled to appear for sentencing that morning in regards to the 12 criminal charges he pleaded guilty to in mid-2011. Only now, however, has it been confirmed that Monsegur avoided sentencing because he is continuing to maintain a working relationship with federal agents.
On Monday, the leaking website Cryptome published a copy [.pdf] of a request from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York’s in which the court is asked to adjourn Monsegur’s sentencing date until August 23, 2013 “in light of the defendant’s ongoing cooperation with the Government.” According to the copy published by Cryptome, the request was approved by District Judge Loretta Preska, in turn granting Monsegur another six months of freedom while he continues to aid authorities.
Monsegur was arrested in June 2011 and pleaded guilty two months later to a dozen charges relating to the hacker group LulzSec, or Lulz Security, an off-shoot of the shadowy hacktivist movement Anonymous. Monsegur took the blame for a laundry list of crimes that included multiple counts of conspiracy to engage in computer hacking and other high-tech crimes, although news of his arrest and plea were initially kept under seal so that investigators could use the single father of two to infiltrate Anonymous on behalf of the FBI.
“It was because of his kids. He didn’t want to go away to prison and leave them. That’s how we got him,” a law enforcement official involved in the case told Fox News last year on condition of anonymity.
When news broke last March of an international sting targeting hacktivists, though, it was unearthed that Monsegur had become a turncoat for the feds. Using a computer provided to him by the authorities, he had fellow hacker Jeremy Hammond upload files that were illegally obtained from private intelligence firm Stratfor in December 2011.
“At the direction of the FBI,” reads the indictment against Hammond, a confidential informant provided him and his co-conspirators with “a computer server in New York, New York, which could be used to store data, and to which Hammond and his co-conspirators in fact transferred data.” By that time, Monsegur had already been assisting the authorities for six months. Less than three months after the Stratfor files were compromised and then released by Anonymous and LulzSec, the FBI arrested Hammond on March 6 using evidence they were able to create with the cooperation of Monsegur.
"Since literally the day he was arrested, the defendant has been cooperating with the government proactively," Assistant U.S. Attorney James Pastore said at a secret bail hearing after Monsegur first began assisting law enforcement.
Monsegur had last been scheduled to be sentenced in August 2012, but Judge Preska adjourned the hearing for another six months then due to the defendant’s ongoing cooperation with the government. According to the latest news out of New York, Monsegur is said to be still assisting the authorities, suggesting that the FBI continues to maintain a presence inside of Anonymous and the hacktivism community. Now Monsegur is likely to avoid sentencing until at least August 2013, at which point he will have been working with the FBI for over two years.
“Do not expect Sabu to be sentenced until after the last co-defendant or case he made has been convicted and sentenced,” New York-based human rights attorney Stanley Cohen — who is not directly affiliated with either hacking case — opined on Twitter. Jay Leiderman, another counsel who is not working on this case but has assisted with legal representative for another accused members of Anonymous, adds that he doesn’t think Monsegur will be sentenced “until he either testifies against Hammond or Hammond pleads guilty.”
Judge Preska, who will next weigh in on the Monsegur case in August, is meanwhile tasked with handling the federal prosecution of Jeremy Hammond. If he is convicted of his crimes that were done in conjunction with the informant’s urging he could be sentenced to life in prison. When Monsegur is eventually sentenced, he could be handed a prison stay of 124 years. Until then, though, he is guaranteed another six months outside of prison on condition that he continues to work with authorities.