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Monday, June 24, 2024 | Back issues
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Man Accused of Hacking Hollywood Denied Bail

MANHATTAN (CN) - The Bahamian accused of hacking his way into a trove of Hollywood secrets poses too much of a flight risk to bail out pending trial, a federal judge ruled Friday.

U.S. authorities nabbed Alonzo Knowles, 23, four days shy of Christmas at a meeting in which the Freeport native allegedly attempted to hand a stash of stolen scripts and compromising celebrity information to an undercover agent in return for $79,000.

Knowles is accused of offering the agent 19 scripts, multiple sex tapes and personal information belonging to 130 celebrities.

After unsealing the criminal complaint on Dec. 22, a grand jury charged Knowles on Tuesday with criminal copyright infringement and identity theft.

Knowles pleaded not guilty Friday before a federal magistrate, paving the way for a conference that afternoon before U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer.

With his extended family in Florida a short hop away from his home in the Bahamas, the court denied Knowles bail.

Engelmayer also observed that prosecutors have a "strong case."

The criminal complain says a "popular radio host" received an unsolicited offer in early December from an email user calling himself "Jeff Moxie" to offer a sneak peak into scripts for upcoming episodes of a television series.

Moxie's offer for the script of an unnamed Hollywood comedy and a hip-hop artist biopic came later, prosecutors say.

The as-yet-unnamed host alerted the authorities, who say they unmasked "Moxie" as Knowles in FaceTime video chats.

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.

Federal defender Clay Kaminsky, who represents Knowles, said that the "prurient interest in celebrities" associated with the case does not make his client more of a danger to the public.

While the criminal complaint shields the victims' names, it reveals that they also included screenwriters, pro athletes, actresses and a popular singer-songwriter.

Rejecting this argument, Engelmeyer countered: "Yes, but the celebrity dimension is what makes these materials more salable by your client."

The judge also rejected Kaminsky's argument that the celebrity information was easy to acquire.

After Kaminsky said that his phone number is listed online, Engelmayer quipped: "Sure, but Brad Pitt's may not be."

The judge then clarified that he was not saying whether Pitt was one of the victims.

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