Guilty Plea in New York for Hacking Hollywood

     MANHATTAN (CN) — Prosecutors accepting a Hollywood hacking plea Monday offered no details this morning on the celebrity sex tapes they had emphasized in charging papers.
     In announcing the arrest four days shy of Christmas of Alonzo Knowles, the government claimed to have caught the Freeport, Bahamas, man trying to interest an agent in copyrighted scripts and compromising celebrity information.
     Knowles’ bounty was said to have included 19 scripts, multiple sex tapes and personal information belonging to 130 celebrities.
     As the salacious case closes today, however, the identities of the victimized celebrities — who are said to include screenwriters, professional athletes, actresses and a popular singer-songwriter — remain unknown.
     Knowles pleaded guilty to both counts criminal copyright infringement and identity theft, but his one-hour hearing before U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer offered no mention of the alleged sex tapes cited in court papers.
     The plea agreement Knowles signed today specifies that he had “25 unpublished television and movie scripts in his Dropbox account.”
     Knowles must surrender these scripts to authorities along with “all copies of unpublished music” and his Apple iPad mini.
     He faces up to 10 years imprisonment at a sentencing on Aug. 25, but the government is recommending a far lighter range of between 27 and 33 months.
     Knowles appeared on authorities’ radar, according to the charging papers, when a “popular radio host” received an unsolicited email in early December offering a sneak peak at scripts for upcoming episodes of a television series.
     Calling himself Jeff Moxie, the user later offered a script of an unnamed Hollywood comedy and a hip-hop artist biopic, prosecutors say.
     Authorities say the host, whose name remains a secret, alerted them and that FaceTime video chats with “Moxie” unmasked the culprit as Knowles, then 23.
     To facilitate travel arrangements, Knowles sent his real name, birth date, passport information and MoneyGram account number to the undercover agent, according to the complaint.
     Today’s hour-long hearing added little information to what already is known about the case.
     Defense attorney Clay Kaminsky declined to comment about his client, who wore a blue prison uniform while escorted out of the courtroom in restraints.
     U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara applauded the happy ending in a “story of cybercrime meets celebrity stalking.”
     “Alonzo Knowles targeted and hacked into the private emails of celebrities in entertainment and in professional sports,” Bharara said in a statement. “His crimes did not end with this frightening invasion of privacy, as Knowles then sought to sell what he stole, including unreleased movie and television scripts, to the highest bidder.”

%d bloggers like this: