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'Hacktivist,' Glenbard East graduate sentenced to 10 years in prison

Published: Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 12:36 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Photo courtesy of the Glenbard East High School yearbook)
Jeremy Hammond, front row, second from left, as a senior at Glenbard East High School in 2003.

Glenbard East High School graduate and “hacktivist” Jeremy Hammond, 28, was sentenced to 10 years in jail on Friday for breaking into the computer systems of government agencies and contractors, according to media reports.

Hammond received the maximum possible sentence under a previously agreed upon plea deal, reports said.

A technological wunderkind, Hammond could program video games before he was 10, according to reports.

He is remembered by former classmates and teachers as fiercely intelligent and rebellious.

“He’s one of those people who didn’t just complain about politics, he went out and did something about it,” said former classmate James Ewert Jr. in a 2012 interview with Suburban Life Media

As a teenager growing up in Glendale Heights, Hammond had run-ins with the police. He was arrested multiple times in his early 20s.

He organized a walk-out his senior year of high school, leading more than 200 East students out of class and into downtown Chicago to protest the Iraq War.

He also hacked into the school's server, oversaw the left-leaning newsletter “The Suburban Underground” and fought for access to the Democratic Party's national website, which was blocked by East's firewall.

“I remember him being very, very, very bright, which should come as a surprise to no one,” said his English teacher Deb Teitelbaum, in a previous interview. “I grew to respect him. He was smart, he was a good writer and he had a point of view, which is rare for a kid that age.”

Hammond was a member of “Anonymous,” an international hacking collective, according to reports.

He collected the personal data of more than 850,000 people as part of a 2011 hack that cost Texas geopolitical publisher Stratfor $1 million, reports said. He used credit card numbers obtained as part of the Stratfor hack to charge more than $700,000.

Hammond was arrested after federal officials raided his Bridgeport home 18 months ago, according to reports.

He was given a more lenient two year sentence after hacking credit card numbers from a conservative website in 2006, reports said.

All told, prosecutors say his hacking resulted in the loss of $1 million to $2.5 million and threatened the safety of law enforcement, according to reports.

Hammond received more than 250 letters of support, including a message from Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, reports said.

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