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Former Student Faces Up to 50 Years in Prison For Hacking Sarah Palin's E-mail

A former University of Tennessee student faces up to 50 years in federal prison if convicted of identity theft, mail fraud and two other felony charges.

David Kernell, the son of longtime Democratic Memphis, Tennessee state Rep. Mike Kernell, faces four separate felony counts of intentionally accessing an account without authorization, identity theft, wire fraud and obstruction of an FBI investigation. He pled not guilty to all counts in a trial that began on April 10th.

During the 2008 Presidential campaign, a computer hacker gained access to Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin's email account – the candidate first learned of the event from a news report revealing that she had used her private email account to discuss Alaska state business with staff members. The news report was subsequently confirmed by the Secret Service and her campaign manager.

Sarah Palin testified last week against a 22-year-old man accused of hacking into her e-mail account, saying later it's up to the judge to decide whether he should serve prison time if convicted. When asked outside the courtroom if she thought the charges were excessive, Palin said, "I don't know, but I do think there should be consequences for bad behavior."

Palin's daughter Bristol testified that she received harassing phone calls and text messages after screen shots of e-mail from the account published on line revealed her cell phone number. A former Palin aide also described receiving vulgar e-mails as a result of the hacking incident.

Kernell's lawyer has called the case a prank, not a crime.

Published Apr 29 2010, 02:20 AM by IdentityTheft
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