Illustration by Clark Stoeckley
This morning, at the US district court of New York's Southern District, Judge Loretta Preska handed down a sentence to Hector Xavier Monsegur, better known by his internet alias "Sabu"—time served followed by one year supervised release.
Monsegur's lenient sentencing took place in the same ceremonial courtroom where outlaw-hacktivist Jeremy Hammond—who Monsegur, an Anonymous hacker turned FBI informant, helped the feds arrest for committing cybercrimes—received his 10-year prison sentence last November.
Monsegur entered the room today to find a sparse crowd of journalists, three members of his family, and a couple dozen others awaiting the hearing. Forty minutes later, he walked free, avoiding what could have been decades of jail time.
Citing a sentencing submission filed by the government on Friday afternoon, Monsegur's attorneys agreed with the motion to side-step his recommended sentencing of 259 to 317 months in prison because of his "extraordinary" help to the feds. Since his arrest in 2011, Monsegur helped the FBI prevent some 300 potential cyberattacks.
Monsegur's counsel praised his "extraordinary cooperation" and "timeliness" in deciding to help federal investigators. Attorneys said the former LulzSec leader, now considered a traitor by some in the hacktivist community, was motivated by the impact that his probable imprisonment might have had on his family, including two young cousins of his that he cared for at the time of his arrest. He prioritized them in making the quick decision to cooperate with law enforcement, they said.
Judge Preska observed statements by the defense, and praised Monsegur's "characteristic of turning on a dime," quickly enough to give investigators unprecedented access to the inner-workings of Anonymous. Quickly, Preska handed Monsegur his expected sentence, making him a free man. She added special conditions to have any of his computers or devices searched for the following year.
After continuing to praise Monsegur's "truly extraordinary," and "around-the-clock" work as an informat, the judge asked Monsegur if he'd like to speak. He stood, greeted Preska, and said, "The last three years, I have gone through a lot of changes, learned a lot of lessons. I came a long way. I have had to do a lot of thinking and soul-searching… I assure you I will not be in this courtroom ever again."
Photo by Kevin Collier
Monsegur stepped out of the US court house in lower Manhattan, lit up a Newport 100, and flashed a peace sign as he walked away from the court hosue. I dashed out in front of him to record this vine: