A Minnesota man has pleaded guilty to hacking into his neighbors’ Wi-Fi to send a threatening email to Vice President Joe Biden.
Barry Ardolf stopped his trial to plead guilty to two counts of aggravated identity theft, possession and transmission of child pornography, unauthorized access to a protected computer and making threats to the vice president, according to TwinCities.com.
The Associated Press reported that in his plea agreement, Ardolf admitted hacking into his neighbor Matthew Kostolnik’s Wi-Fi connection and creating multiple email accounts in his name. Ardolf then used one of those accounts to email Biden’s office in May 2009.
The message read, in part: “This is a terrorist threat! Take this seriously. I hate the way you people are spending money you don’t have . . . I’m assigning myself to be judge, jury and executioner. Since you folks have spent what you don’t have, it’s time to pay the ultimate price,” according to The Register.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Rankin said Ardolf’s antics began in retaliation after the Kostolniks accused him of kissing their 4-year-old son. Ardolf set up fake email accounts in Matthew Kostolnik’s name and then sent emails aimed at getting Kostolnik in trouble at his workplace. One message sent to Kostolnik’s coworkers contained two images of child porn — one of the photos was labeled “Matt’s kids,” according to TwinCities.com.
When authorities began investigating the emails, they appeared to come from Kostolnik because they contained his computer’s IP address. But the beginning of the end came May 6, 2009, when Ardolf, posing as the Kostolniks, sent an email threatening Biden, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and other officials.
The message was traced to Ardolf, and when federal agents searched his home and seized his computers, they found the emails, child pornography and the threats.
According to TwinCities.com, a Secret Service agent testified that when he asked Ardolf why he would threaten the vice president, he replied, “Maybe I was mad at my neighbor.”