MANHATTAN (CN) — Already slated to remain in federal lockup until his 80s, a Florida man received an 18-month prison term on Monday for hacking into the Clinton Foundation — a sentence effectively canceled out by his prior child pornography crimes.
Two years ago, a Secret Service investigation traced 400,000 attempts to break into the networks of the Clinton Foundation and other organizations to Timothy Sedlak’s home in Florida.
At the time of his September 2015 arrest, Sedlak told agents that he had been investigating whether the foundation had been unintentionally financing jihadist groups through donations to other charities in the Middle East.
The computer hacking crime led investigators to pictures of Sedlak sexually abusing an infant, once at the age of 1 and again at age 3.
Now 44 years old, Sedlack is only a year and a half into the 42-year prison term for producing and possessing child pornography. He faced sentencing this afternoon for a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act count that he pleaded guilty to in February.
As he stood up to address U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams, Sedlak got off to a false start.
His voice quaked as he started to speak, but then he sat down to read from a prepared statement.
“I’ve hurt many people in different ways with what I’ve done, including everyone who uses electronic mail by making them feel insecure,” Sedlak said, sniffling throughout his remarks.
Sedlak apologized to the people behind the faceless email accounts that he had targeted.
“I know I caused them to be afraid for their privacy and to feel violated,” he said.
Though the government has not disclosed the identities of the victims, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristy Greenberg said that Sedlak used 22 computers equipped with brute-force hacking software on dozens of charities, political organizations and law firms.
The Clinton Foundation was one of them, and Sedlak’s notes mentioned two members of its namesake political family: Hillary Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea.
Before imposing her sentence, Judge Abrams quoted from a handwritten letter from Sedlak describing himself as law-abiding before the online world distanced him from his victims.
“I followed rules I knew of made rules of my own in addition,” Sedlak wrote in his May 22 letter. “But, in the privacy of my house and with the feeling of anonymity and virtuality that the internet provides, I decided it was okay to break the rules.”
Excerpting this passage, Abrams said: “The message that I want to send today is: It is not.”
Though the 18-month sentence that Abrams imposed is in line with the probation department’s recommendation, it is at the lower end of the prosecution’s recommendation.
Greenberg, the lead prosecutor on the case, had wanted Sedlak’s computer hacking sentence to be added to his prior child pornography term to show the public that an often-elusive crime will be dealt with harshly.
“Hackers are tough to catch,” she noted. “There needs to be tough consequences when we succeed.”
But Judge Abrams allowed Sedlak’s sentences to run concurrently, meaning that he will not have to serve additional time in practice.
Defense attorney Annalisa Miron argued that the hacks were largely unsuccessful, and her client will already be elderly when released from prison.
“He will certainly not survive his parents,” she said, adding that both had written to the judge and attended the sentencing in support of their son.
Miron also blamed her client’s behavior partly on his “long history of untreated mental illness.”
“He did not have health insurance for 20 years,” she said.
With the FBI still investigating suspected Russian hacking into the Democratic party servers, Miron was quick to distinguish that case with her client’s.
“He was not driven to affect the election or anything like that,” she said.
Currently an inmate at New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center, Sedlak is expected to be relocated to a prison closer to his family in Florida.