College student who hacked Palin’s personal email account gets early probation …

July 25, 2013 by  
Filed under Wind Energy Tips

Remember that guy who spent a year in prison because he hacked into Sarah Palin’s personal email account in 2008 looking in vain for politically damaging information? He is David Kernell, and he is now free as a bird.

Five years after the fruitless search, a judge released Kernell from post-prison probation, reports The Commercial Appeal.

Kernell’s prison term ended in November 2011. He was scheduled to remain on probation until November 2014. This month, though, the federal judge who oversaw the case, Thomas Phillips, agreed to Kernell’s request to end his probation early.

Phillips, a Republican appointee, is retiring in August. The local U.S. attorney’s office did not contest the early probation termination.

As Knoxville NBC affiliate WBIR notes, Kernell’s attorney Wade Davis continues to argue that his client only committed a youthful prank.

When he did the deed, Kernell was a student at the University of Tennessee. He did complete his degree after he was out of prison.

Also of note is the fact that Kernell’s father, a Democrat, served for a long time as a member of the state legislature.

Phillips didn’t want to send Kernell to prison in the first place. He had ordered the college student to report to a halfway house in Knoxville. However, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons overruled Thomas and instead sent the 22-year-old straight to the pokey.

The Commercial Appeal notes that Kernell’s crime was more of a softcore hacking. Sophistication was minimal. Testimony shows that, more than anything, Kernell was a stalker or – if it makes you feel better – a gumshoe: After learning that Palin used a personal email account for official business, he scoured the internet to figure out the answer to Palin’s password security question.

Once he cracked the personal email account of the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican Party vice-presidential nominee, Kernell changed her password. He also posted her username and password on an online discussion board – apparently 4Chan – along with screenshots of emails a few photos to prove his conquest. This maneuver led to a fight with other users as he struggled to maintain control over the email account he had deceptively entered.

Kernell’s future plans involved – wait for it – law school, according to Memphis station WMC. He wants to be a defense attorney but plans to take some time off – of something – before entering a J.D. program.

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