Former Hacker Hector "Sabu" Monsegur Gets Time Served After "Extraordinary" Cooperation With Feds

Sabu-screenshot.jpg
Screenshot via.
Monsegur in 2012.
In June of 2011, over the course of a single day, Hector "Sabu" Monsegur went from being one of the most prolific hackers affiliated with Anonymous and offshoot group Lulzsec to helping the FBI bring them down. In Federal District Court in Manhattan yesterday, Monsegur, who was potentially facing two years in prison for his own hacking activities, was sentenced instead to time served, in light of what court documents and Judge Loretta A. Preska called his "extraordinary" cooperation with federal authorities.

Monsegur got a visit from the FBI on June 7, 2011 at his grandmother's apartment in the rundown Jacob Riis Houses on the Lower East Side, where he lived with his two young nieces. At the time, he was caring full-time for the two girls; their mother had gone to prison and their grandmother had passed away.

And, on his own and with other people believed to be linked to Anonymous, Lulzsec and Antisec, he was hacking -- releasing data on the structure of Senate.gov, the United States Senate's official website, posting an article on PBS saying Tupac was alive, paying his household bills with stolen account information, participating in Wikileaks-related hacks on Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal, and hitting multiple government websites in the countries of Algeria, Zimbabwe, Yemen and Tunisia. He's also been implicated in the hack of Internet security firm HBGary, among numerous other targets.

According to court documents, which we've posted in full below, when Monsegur was confronted by the FBI in 2011 he "immediately" agreed to cooperate with the authorities.

"It was not a difficult choice for him," his attorneys Peggy Cross-Goldenberg and Philip Weinstein wrote in a pre-sentencing report to the judge. "Whatever his beliefs, his family came first. He would do whatever he had to do to protect the girls and avoid their placement in the foster care system."

Between 2011 and 2012, there was a good deal of speculation as to whether Monsegur was cooperating with the FBI. In March 2012, it was publicly confirmed, after five other Lulzsec and Anonymous hackers were arrested, including Jeremy Hammond, wanted for a cyberattack on Stratfor, a "global intelligence" company.

Following his plea, his lawyers say, Monesegur kept up "round-the-clock proactive cooperation" with the FBI, helping secure evidence against other Lulzsec folks and helping avert "national and international crises." They say he helped law enforcement prevent the takeover of "the water supply of a major U.S. city and of a major foreign energy supply company," as well as preventing attacks on the U.S. federal court system and U.S. Congress websites.

"His work not only enhanced national security," they write. "It prevented millions, if not billions, of dollars in loss." His work each day only ended when he went to pick up his nieces from school, they add. He also managed to get arrested once more, in February of that year, for telling NYPD officers he was an FBI agent . He was charged with misdemeanor criminal impersonation for that one, but did no jail time.

After he was outed as an informant on March 6, 2012, the attorneys say, "his world came crashing down again." Following the arrests of other Anonymous hackers, government documents revealing his cooperation were unsealed, and various anonymous government officials told reporters as much in multiple interviews. On March 7, he got a call from a foster care agency, saying that his nieces would be taken from him. After several hours of meetings between his attorneys and the agency, they agreed to instead hand over custody to the girls' mother, who'd recently been released from prison.

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