A Minnesota man has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for hacking into his neighbor's wireless Internet system to make threats against Vice President Joe Biden and distribute child pornography.
Barry Ardolf, of Blaine, was indicted in June of 2010 and pleaded guilty in December. The sentence was delivered in federal court in St. Paul on Tuesday.
In his plea agreement, Ardolf, 46, admitted hacking into his neighbor's wireless Internet connection and creating several Yahoo.com email accounts in his neighbor's name. He used one of the accounts to email a threat to the Vice President's office.
"This is a terrorist threat! Take this seriously," the email said. "I hate the way you people are spending money you don't have ... I'm assigning myself to be judge, jury and executioner."
The email included threats to kill Biden and other elected officials. Ardolf signed the email with the name of his neighbor.
Ardolf also admitted to sending sexually explicit emails to three of the neighbor's co-workers. In one of the emails, he attached an image that contained child pornography. Ardolf also created a MySpace page in the neighbor's name and posted the pornographic image on the page.
"This investigation highlights the importance of maintaining wireless security at home or in business," said Donald Oswald, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Minneapolis Division, in a statement released Tuesday. "This case is unique as the defendant's goal was not financially motivated, but rather to ruin the victim's reputation and livelihood."
Wireless internet users should make sure they are using the strongest encryption standards possible and regularly update their anti-virus software, officials with the Minnesota Cyber Crimes Task Force and U.S. Attorney's Office said.