Adrian Lamo sentencing postponed

A planned sentencing hearing Thursday for noted computer hacker Adrian Lamo has been postponed, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York said.

Lamo had been scheduled to appear in Manhattan federal court to be sentenced, after pleading guilty to an unauthorized intrusion onto the computer network of The New York Times in February 2002. That sentencing is now postponed until June 2004, the spokeswoman said.

Reached by phone, Lamo declined to comment, saying only that the hearing had been postponed "due to a need for a postponement." He referred all questions to Sean Hecker, an attorney from the Federal Defender's office who has represented him. Messages left for Hecker Thursday afternoon were not returned.

The sentencing follows an agreement reached between Lamo and federal prosecutors in January 2004. As part of that deal, Lamo plead guilty to hacking into the Times' computer network and accessing a database containing personal information for more than 3,000 contributors to the paper's Op-Ed page.

It was unclear Thursday whether the postponement of the sentencing signalled a breakdown in the agreement between Lamo and the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Prior to the New York Times break-in, Lamo built a reputation as a so-called "grey hat" hacker, who probed the computer defenses of high profile companies such as WorldCom, Yahoo, Microsoft and Cingular Wireless, often finding previously unknown back doors into sensitive areas of those networks.

Lamo was not authorized to penetrate the networks, but often publicly disclosed his forays, at times working with the companies to close the holes he discovered. The Times learned of Lamo's intrusion after the young hacker told journalist and former hacker Kevin Poulsen about his forays.

Lamo also earned the moniker of "homeless hacker" for his itinerant lifestyle, often spending extended periods wandering the country or living on the streets of San Francisco. He is currently attending college in California.

Reached by phone earlier this week, Lamo expressed hope that his sentence would adhere to the terms of the plea agreement he reached with prosecutors and allow him to continue his studies, but said he was willing to accept whatever sentence the judge would impose.

"I know what I did has consequences. I'm prepared to accept those and get on with my life," he said.

After Thursday's decision to postpone his sentencing, Lamo will have to wait a few more weeks to learn of his fate.

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Paul Roberts

IDG News Service
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