Mitnick sentenced, sort of

Media outlets gave straight-faced coverage to the restrictions US District Judge Mariana Pfaelzer placed on hacker Kevin Mitnick as she pronounced sentence: In addition to 46 months in prison and a $US4,125 fine, Mitnick is not to be seen circling near any Net gadgetry. That is, no PC, no cell phone, no TV, no Net access. "No way" would seem more like it, although the judge offered Mitnick some leeway. He can use his favorite tools as long as he has a note from his probation officer.

Reports in the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and ZDNet failed to ask the obvious question of whether such restrictions would stick on a man famous for slipping through barriers. After breaking into computers at Motorola, Novell and Sun Microsystems, Mitnick did a turn on the FBI's Most Wanted list before being captured in 1995. The token fine is a fraction of the $1.5 million in damages that prosecutors had requested.

Credit Pfaelzer for candor. She admitted it will be "impossible" for probation officials to monitor Mitnick once he is released from custody, according to a Reuters report posted on With credit for time served since 1995, Mitnick could be sent to a pre-release centre as early as January. Pfaelzer prefers he remain in prison for the remainder of his sentence, according to ZDNet's Kevin Poulsen.

Mitnick attorney Donald Randolph, who sees his client as a 12-step candidate, believes Mitnick will find justice in the court of public approval. "I think when this case is scrutinised and analysed ... there will be a real evaluation about how this case was prosecuted. I think it was heavy handed, overboard, and a lot of unfair things happened."

No word on whether Mitnick's troubles stem from a desire to please his mother and grandmother.

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