'I'm innocent!' says IT contractor on trial after Office 365 bill row spiraled out of control

Bloke cuffed, charged after customer's subscription axed

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An IT contractor is facing criminal charges after turning off the Microsoft Office 365 service of a customer he said owed him money.

Jim Kubicek, 48, of Cumming, Georgia, US, was arrested and charged with theft by extortion, computer theft, and computer trespass. He denies any wrongdoing, and told The Register: "I am innocent."

His arrest comes after he discontinued the office suite subscription for the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce. The IT pro and the county chamber were locked in a billing dispute, we understand. What's surprising is that this row spilled not into the civil courts, but into a criminal trial.

After providing IT support to the chamber for about a year, Kubicek's business – Kubicek Information Technologies (KIT) – was told its services were no longer required. This is where the stories begin to differ, with one side alleging criminal malice and the other insisting this is a contract disagreement blown out of proportion.

To hear the story relayed by the chamber and the police, Kubicek was furious that he was being dumped, and threatened to delete the chamber's data if it did not reinstate his contract. When the county chamber refused to pay, he pulled the plug. The organization noted that no data was lost and no personal information on any individuals was compromised. The chamber has since moved to a new IT provider, and a complaint was made against Kubicek.

Kubicek, meanwhile, told the Forsyth News the chamber cancelled a three-year contract early and refused to pay him the remaining balance. So, after a while, he simply switched off the Office 365 cloud service, as he would for any other customer that was delinquent on its bills. He also hired an attorney to serve the chamber with a civil demand for $78,000 (£62,400), to be paid within 30 days.

While at a careers fair at Lanier Technical College earlier this month, the IT contractor was pulled aside by officers from the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, cuffed, and taken to the county jail. He was charged, and freed on bail after posting a $13,555 (£10,800) bond.

"I am innocent of all allegations in this matter," Kubicek told The Register on Thursday, while admitting he couldn't say too much more at this stage.

"This should never have escalated above a civil matter between KIT and the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce as a matter of business contract," he added.

Kubicek's attorney declined to comment, and the Chamber of Commerce, too, citing the pending nature of the case. Kubicek's trial is due to kick off on March 10. ®


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