Wi-Fi–Hacking Neighbor From Hell Sentenced to 18 Years
A Minnesota hacker prosecutors described as a “depraved criminal” was handed an 18-year prison term Tuesday for unleashing a vendetta of cyberterror that turned his neighbors’ lives into a living nightmare.
Barry Ardolf, 46, repeatedly hacked into his next-door neighbors’ Wi-Fi network in 2009, and used it to try and frame them for child pornography, sexual harassment, various kinds of professional misconduct and to send threatening e-mail to politicians, including Vice President Joe Biden.
His motive was to get back at his new neighbors after they told the police he’d kissed their 4-year-old son on the lips.
“Barry Ardolf has demonstrated by his conduct that he is a dangerous man. When he became angry at his neighbors, he vented his anger in a bizarre and calculated campaign of terror against them,” (.pdf) prosecutor Timothy Rank said in a court filing. “And he did not wage this campaign in the light of day, but rather used his computer hacking skills to strike at his victims while hiding in the shadows.
“Over months and months, he inflicted unfathomable psychic damage, making the victims feel vulnerable in their own home, while avoiding detection.”
Ardolf’s attorney, Kevin O’Brien, said in a telephone interview that “it was a lengthy sentence for a first time offender.” The defendant also forfeited his house and computer gear.
Ardolf had no criminal record, but an investigation revealed that he’d also hijacked the Wi-Fi of other neighbors, and terrorized them as well.
A father of two, Ardolf had turned down a 2-year plea agreement last year to charges related to the Biden e-mail. After that, the authorities piled on more charges, including identity theft and two kiddie-porn accusations carrying lifetime sex-offender registration requirements. He pleaded guilty to them all last year.