Former Md. computer hacker pleads guilty to wire fraud charges


A former Maryland man pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to two wire fraud charges in the theft and exchange of secret computer codes with other computer hackers, some of them members of a group known as the Legion of Doom.

Leonard Rose Jr., who once lived in Middletown and now lives near Chicago, is to receive up to one year in prison at sentencing June 10 under the terms of the plea agreement on charges in Baltimore and in Chicago accepted yesterday by Judge J. Frederick Motz.

Rose, 32, pleaded guilty to sending an American Telephone & Telegraph Co. and Bell Laboratories source code by computer to another hacker in Illinois. Rose originally was charged last May with five counts, alleging a scheme to steal the source codes, distribute them and gain unauthorized access to computer systems. If he had been convicted, he could have been sentenced to 18 months in prison, said Assistant U.S. Attorney ++ Geoffrey R. Garinther.

Mr. Garinther said Rose had the ability to enter the computer systems of customers who had paid AT&T; $77,000 for its UNIX computer system. Although there was no proof Rose had made such unauthorized entries into the supposedly secure central systems, the prosecutor said he could, for example, have entered municipalities' 911 emergency systems or a newspaper's central computer to get users' passwords. He also was able to avoid paying telephone tolls.

Noting Rose's objections last year to being called a Legion of Doom member, Mr. Garinther said yesterday, "He is not literally a Legion of Doom member, but he communicates with them. He is loosely affiliated with them.

"But he is older, more sophisticated than them. They tend to be younger, high school age. He might be more dangerous for his sophistication [because] he's not detectable, although they're more destructive."

Rose works on a computer security system for a Texas firm, his attorneys told Judge Motz, who agreed to let him to travel to that job until sentencing. He also may sell his computer equipment, seized in the 1990 arrest and subject to forfeiture to the government, to support his family.

As part of his plea bargain, Rose is to disclose his crime to any potential employer who deals with source codes similar to those of AT&T.; He was previously convicted in Virginia, Mr. Garinther said, of breaking and entering to steal computer equipment that he believed was his, but in fact belonged to the FBI.

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