Jailed SF network admin files $3M claim

Accused rogue administrator Terry Childs has filed a $3 million claim against the city of San Francisco.

The network administrator who was jailed for allegedly holding San Francisco's city government network hostage has filed a US$3 million claim against the city.

Terry Childs made national headlines last year, when he was arrested after refusing to hand over the passwords he used to the wide area network that he managed for the city. Childs eventually did comply, giving the information to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, but he has remained in jail since his July 12 arrest, held on a US$5 million bond. He faces seven years in prison if convicted.

His US$3 million claim for damages was filed with the city on Jan. 8, and was first reported by the San Francisco Examiner on Wednesday. "The claim alleges that the city and county of San Francisco, through the manager that Terry worked for ... made claims that resulted in his wrongful arrest," said Childs' lawyer, John Prentice.

Childs, formerly a network administrator with the city's Telecommunications and Information Services (DTIS), had argued that the department's staff was incompetent and that the mayor was the only person qualified to handle the passwords.

By filing this claim, Childs keeps the door open to a possible future lawsuit against the city. Prentice said he and his client are "certainly considering" that option, but they have not made a final decision.

The claim seeks US$1 million in compensation for lost wages and benefits as well as $1 million for the emotional stress inflicted on Childs during his long incarceration. "He doesn't really represent a threat to anyone and yet they're keeping him in custody," Prentice said.

Also sought are US$500,000 in attorney fees and $500,000 in unspecified "special damages."

City Attorney Dennis Herrera rejected the claim on Jan. 23, according to Matt Dorsey, a spokesman for the city attorney's office. "We evaluated the claim and we believe it to be without merit," he said.

The city has argued that Childs created back-door points of entry to the city's network and had at one point made it impossible for the city to regain administrative control of the WAN without wiping out large amounts of configuration data. The city has pegged the cleanup bill for the incident at around $1 million.

Childs is set to appear in court again next week, where the judge will entertain pretrial motions and possibly set a trial date, the San Francisco District Attorney's office said. Prentice is not representing Childs in his criminal trial.

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