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Source: ZDNet UK News

Posted on March 13, 2002

      A programmer is starting a three-year sentence for sabotaging his former employer's computers, the first person to be sentenced under a US federal law.

      A computer programmer was sentenced in federal court on Tuesday to more than three years in prison for sabotaging his former company's computers, causing a loss of more than $10m, in the first such case to be tried under a new federal law, prosecutors said.

      Timothy Lloyd, 39, of Wilmington, Delaware, also was ordered to pay $2m in restitution to Omega Engineering, a defence contractor with offices in Stamford, Connecticut.

      Lloyd was a "disgruntled employee" demoted after 11 years as the company's chief programmer who retaliated by setting off a computer "time bomb" that deleted the company's most critical software programs, said Assistant US Attorney Grady O'Malley.

      The "time bomb" program went off without warning on 31 July, 1996, when an employee randomly logged on, he said. The company claimed to have lost more than $10m in sales and future contracts as a result.

      The programs that were deleted had been "the lifeblood of the company" that instructed robotic machines to build Omega's measurement and control instruments, O'Malley said.

      Lloyd, who faced a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison on the single count of computer fraud, was sentenced to three years and five months by US District Court Judge William Walls.

      Lloyd was originally convicted in May 2000. That decision was overturned and then upheld in December 2001 by a federal appeals court.

      Lloyd told the court on Tuesday he was the victim of "a conspiracy" between the company and government, said his attorney, Edward Crisonino, who said he will appeal.

      Crisonino said the government's evidence, including a hard drive found by Secret Service agents in Lloyd's garage containing time bomb computer code, was insufficient proof of Lloyd's guilt.

      "It could have been a computer failure or, even if it was a time bomb, we don't feel they proved it was him," Crisonino said. Other employees had easy access to the company's network system and could have committed sabotage, he said.

      The case is the first to be tried under a relatively new federal law -- Fraud and Related Activities In Connection With Computers -- set up in 1994 amid a growing wave of computer hacking, O'Malley said.

      Others have committed crimes covered by the law but have pleaded guilty and not gone to trial, the prosecutor said.

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