A computer programmer was sentenced to two years in prison for unleashing crippling attacks on rollingstone.com and other news websites that published humiliating accounts of an adulterous online affair he pursued with a fictitious woman.
Bruce Raisley was also ordered to pay $90,383 in restitution for the distributed denial-of-service attacks against the websites in retaliation for stories that documented the steamy online liaison. A former member of a vigilante group that posed as children online to publicly expose pedophiles, he got a dose of his own medicine when websites for Rolling Stone and other outlets chronicled his decision to leave his wife to be with the fictitious “Holly", to whom he sent sexually explicit pictures of himself in online chats.
It turned out the woman was the elaborate fabrication of one Xavier Von Erck, a leader of the Perverted Justice vigilante group, after he had a bitter falling out with Raisley. The climax of the sordid hoax came shortly after Raisley agreed to leave his wife, when Von Erck had a photographer waiting at an Arkansas airport to snap pictures of Raisley, with flowers in hand, as he waited to meet Holly face-to-face for the first time.
After Rolling Stone and Radar magazine published accounts, the programmer concocted botnet software to carry out attacks on the websites. At the height of the DDoS assaults, demand for the humiliating article on Rolling Stone “skyrocketed from a few page requests per day to millions of page requests per day,” prosecutors said.
In September, Raisley was convicted of a single count of launching a malicious program that infected about 100,000 computers worldwide. The programmer is 48 years old, not 49, as prosecutors said previously.
At Friday's sentencing hearing in US District Court in New Jersey, Judge Robert Kugler admonished a weeping Raisley that his web attacks amounted to an assault of the free speech rights of the news websites he took out, Rebekah Carmichael, a spokeswoman for the US Attorney's office in New Jersey said.