A 23-year-old Arizona man was thrown in the cooler this week after he admitted being the not-quite-infamous website-rattling "Bitcoin Baron".
Randall Charles Tucker was given a 20-month sentence Tuesday after pleading guilty earlier this year to one count of felony intentional damage to a protected computer. He had faced as many as 41 months.
The man had been charged with running a March 2015 distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that had rendered the US city of Madison Wisconsin's government networks inaccessible various times over a five day period.
According to his indictment [PDF], Tucker operated in 2015 as a quasi-hacktivist calling himself the Bitcoin Baron. He performed a string of DDoS assaults, demanding a ransom to end the waves of junk network traffic, against three cities (Chandler and Mesa, Arizona, in addition to Madison) as well as against a news network that refused to post a video he made claiming credit for the attacks.
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His guilty plea deal with prosecutors only covered the Madison outage. In that event, prosecutors claimed, Tucker not only took down municipal government websites, but also disrupted the city's 911 system, temporarily slowing the city's ability to handle emergency calls.
"Tucker’s crimes are serious," the DoJ argued in a sentencing memo.
"His DDoS attacks against the City of Madison seriously affected public safety, and his crime spree of computer attacks and extortion affected numerous victims, all while Tucker was on pretrial release for an unrelated state aggravated-assault charge."
While prosecutors attempted to portray Tucker as a serious threat to the public, all indications are that he was anything but a master hacker in the lead up to his 2015 arrest.
As news reports from the time note, his Bitcoin Baron persona was more bark than bite, and even the bark was rather unimpressive.
The "baron" combined off-the-shelf DDoS tools with a series of ham-fisted publicity stunts that included attempts to present himself as part of an Anonymous hacking collective and demands that a police officer fired two years prior be disciplined for misconduct.
He won't have much of a chance to brush up on his hacking skills any time soon.
Along with the 20-month prison term, Tucker will have to pay $68,331 in restitution and will spend 36 months under supervised release after he gets out of prison, during which he will not be allowed to access anything with an internet or network connection. ®