A Florida man was sentenced Wednesday to eight years in prison in a computer theft case involving more than 1 billion records that Acxiom Corp., a data-management company, collected in its work for large corporations.
Scott Levine, 46, of Boca Raton, Fla., was handcuffed and escorted from the courtroom after U.S. District Judge William R. Wilson sentenced him for the theft of 4,789 computer files.
Wilson previously issued a restitution order for $249,752 but said Wednesday he would revise the figure after reviewing information from a presentencing report. The government claims the stolen data was worth about $58 million; Levine's lawyer said it was worth about $50,000.
Levine owned Snipermail Inc., a Florida company that distributed Internet ads to e-mail addresses.
Prosecutors said Levine, working with others, stole Acxiom records that included names, telephone numbers, street addresses and e-mail addresses.
He was accused of using decryption software to obtain passwords and go beyond his authorized access to Acxiom databases.
Prosecutors believe none of the pirated data was used in any identity theft or credit card fraud schemes, but some was resold to a broker for use in an ad campaign.
Acxiom provides data-management services to large corporations for marketing and other purposes. The company is based in Little Rock.
Levine was convicted Aug. 12 on 120 counts of unauthorized access to data, two counts of access device fraud and one count of obstruction of justice.
"Neither the Internet nor cyberspace will ever be a safe haven for individuals who attempt this type of cyber crime," Brian Marr, special agent in charge of the Little Rock office of the U.S. Secret Service, said after the sentencing. "The Secret Service, along with our law enforcement partners, will hunt you down, keystroke by keystroke."
A presentencing report recommended a sentence of 19½-24 years, but Levine's lawyers said that no more than one year in prison was warranted — and that home detention should be considered. Levine's children wrote emotional pleas to the judge.
Before the sentencing, Wilson heard two days of testimony on the value of the data and Levine's character.
Wednesday, a former college football player testified that Levine was a father figure to him and shouldn't go to prison.
Dimitri Jacques, who said Levine had befriended him and others on Florida Atlantic University's first football team, asked the judge not to take Levine "away from the community."
Now a police officer in Atlanta, Jacques said Levine encouraged players to keep going even though the team didn't have any games scheduled in its first year. He also said Levine invited him and other players to Thanksgiving celebrations at his house and remained friends with him even after an injury prevented him from playing.
"Personally, me, I take Scott as a father figure, the father I never had," he said.
As Jacques testified, a woman who was accompanying Levine ran out of the courtroom crying, and her wails echoed from outside in the hallway. The judge stopped testimony until her cries could no longer be heard.
Jacques also said that he's seen violent crime as a police officer, and couldn't understand why Levine could go to prison "because of addresses and e-mails and phone numbers."
Another defense witness, data management expert Robert Ruglio, testified that almost all the stolen data could have been purchased for a budget of less than $50,000.