Maryland man pleads guilty in Chicago federal hacking case

A Maryland man has pleaded guilty in Chicago federal court to running a hacker-for-hire service that shut down websites and affected people around the world.

Twenty-year-old Zachary Buchta of Fallston, Maryland, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of conspiracy to commit damage to protected computers. Buchta admitted in a plea agreement that he was a founding member of two hacker groups that charged a $20 fee to target anyone for online harassment.

Buchta was arrested in October 2016. He has agreed as part of his plea deal to pay $350,000 in restitution to two online gaming companies that were victims.

The charge can carry a sentence of up to a decade in prison. Prosecutors say they will recommend a 2½-year sentence if Buchta continues to cooperate in the investigation.