The Bahamian hacker who hacked into celebrity email accounts to get their secrets and private photos has been sentenced to five years in prison.
Alonzo Knowles, 24, had hacked into the celebrity accounts to get access to unreleased movie and television scripts and personal information of several unnamed athletes and Hollywood celebrities. That information also contained sensitive photos of a number of A-list celebrities. Knowles later tried to sell them for thousands of dollars. The case drew public attention as it followed the highly publicized hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014. Knowles had used "social engineering" tools to hack into the celebrity accounts by targeting their friends and associates.
Celebrity hacker shows no remorse - Judge
His sentence of five years in prison is twice longer than the expected sentence according to the federal sentencing guidelines. Judge Paul A Engelmayer felt that Knowles "would be a clear and present danger to commit the very same crime again," extending his sentence. Knowles had expressed his remorse, saying "What I did was wrong. I could have ruined people's lives."
However, he wrote in emails sent from jail that he would "shake up hollywood for real!" after his release by writing a book, "name dropping everyone involved" in it and releasing pictures he hadn't leaked in the past.
"Everyone loves gossip. I cant wait to get out i already know how the cover is gonna look," he had added. Knowles also wrote that he would charge $35 a copy for his book, and would hack into Twitter accounts of celebrities to promote his book.
The judge said that his jailhouse messages were "devoid of any remorse."
Knowles was arrested in December 2015 when he was trying to sell unreleased scripts of six episodes of Starz TV drama Power. However, when he flew to New York to meet the potential buyer, it turned to be an undercover agent. Following his pleading guilty in May earlier this year, his lawyer had asked for a 14-month sentence. However, his jailhouse emails confirmed his greed, sealing his fate in the prison for a longer period in a federal prison.
“Unavoidably, Mr. Knowles, the public has a significant interest in your being behind bars in federal prison," Judge Engelmayer said. "Where you have no access to the internet and no practical ability to do such harm."