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California student gets 1-year in prison after attempt to rig student election

Courtesy 10news.com

SAN DIEGO - A man who admitted stealing the identities and passwords of more than 700 fellow students at Cal State San Marcos so he could rig campus elections was sentenced Monday to a year in federal prison.

Matthew Weaver, 22, pleaded guilty in federal court in March to wire fraud, access device fraud and unauthorized use of a computer.

In March 2012, Weaver was one of two Cal State San Marcos students running for student body president. According to court documents, Weaver used a small electronic device that records a computer user's keystrokes to steal 745 student passwords.

He admitted to casting about 480 votes for himself and friends, who were also on the ballot, vying for other offices.

"We had received complaints from students about the voting and when we checked, we discovered all the votes were from one I.P. address," said Teresa Macklin, who heads the university's information technology department.

After his arrest, Weaver used "phenomenally bad judgment" by trying to cover up the crime by hacking different online accounts and making it seem like others were to blame, said U.S. District Judge Larry Burns.

"I think this is a serious offense," the judge said, calling the crime "juvenile."

Burns said the defendant "doubled down" after he was caught, hacking into accounts and posting messages on Facebook that the arrest had "ruined Mr. Weaver's life."

"The first offense was compounded by a like-minded offense and that's really troubling to me," said Burns.

The defendant's cover up indicated that there was a "little bit of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in him," the judge said, calling the defendant's hacking into students' accounts a "gross breach of privacy."

Weaver's computer crimes must make people wonder, "If a college kid can do this, who else can?" Burns said.

Defense attorney John Kirby said Weaver "screwed himself" by committing a felony, making it difficult to get a job in the future.

"This was an out-of-character, stupid mistake that he made," Kirby told the judge.

Weaver apologized for his actions before his sentence was announced.

"My behavior was childish, arrogant and foolish," the defendant told the court. "I don't know what I was thinking."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sabrina Feve said Weaver acted like an "entitled" young man who put "hours and hours and hours" of planning into his crimes.

Read story on 10news.com

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