As a federal judge on Wednesday sentenced a former aide to Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) to four years in prison for posting personal information on the internet about a group of GOP Senators during the height of the confirmation debate over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, federal prosecutors unveiled new charges against a second former employee of Hassan's office, for aiding and abetting that crime.
The new charges came in the broader case against Jackson Cosko, who pleaded guilty to stealing private, personal information about a series of Republicans from a Senate computer system, and then posting that on Wikipedia, in an effort to pressure them to oppose Justice Kavanaugh's nomination.
As Cosko on Wednesday was given a four year prison term followed by 36 months of supervised release, the feds unveiled a new set of charges against former Hassan aide Samantha DeForest Davis, as she was charged with aiding and abetting Cosko's crimes, as well as trying to help Cosko conceal his crime.
Prosecutors said on October 3, 2018, Davis attempted to conceal evidence which might link Cosko to the computer crimes, by 'wiping down computers...and restarting said computers' in Hassan's office, 'with the intent to impair the integrity and availability' of evidence which might show Cosko's involvement.
The news of the charges against Davis came as Judge Thomas F. Hogan sentenced Cosko to 48 months in prison on Wednesday; that was slightly less than the 57 months recommended by prosecutors, who said the 27 year-old former staffer deserved stern punishment.
"The United States submits that the defendant deliberately and maliciously committed serious crimes directed at United States Senators and the Senate; that the defendant’s crimes imposed significant harm on individual Senators, their families, staff, and the Senate; and that his crimes call out for a significant sentence," the government's sentencing memo read.
During the highly charged battle over Justice Kavanaugh's nomination in 2018, Cosko publicly posted personal information on Wikipedia about Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Prosecutors told a federal judge that Cosko's 'burglary and computer hacking campaign...represented the largest known theft of electronic data from the Senate.'
"The defendant’s doxxing offenses imposed similarly significant harms, not only by causing substantial fear and distress among the family members of the targeted Senators, but also by requiring the U.S. Capitol Police, as well as local police agencies, to conduct directed uniformed patrols of the residences of affected Senators," the judge was told.
The crimes happened several months after Cosko was terminated in May 2018 by the office of Sen. Hassan, where he had served as a computer systems administrator.
At least four times in 2018, Cosko returned to Hassan's Senate office on Capitol Hill, and not only accessed data from the Senate computer system, but also 'surreptitiously installed "keylogger" devices" on at least six computers in Senator Hassan's Office."
Cosko was then able to obtain login credentials for other staffers in the office, allowing him to get at other information in the Senate system, and from Sen. Hassan's office.
"The defendant also obtained contact information for numerous sitting U.S. Senators, which included their home addresses and private phone numbers," prosecutors said, as Cosko built up to his attacks during the Kavanaugh confirmation fight.
As for Davis, it was immediately clear when she would appear in court to face the new charges filed on Wednesday.
The new federal court docket only contained the criminal information complaint against her, and the notice of her attorney, but not any date for a court appearance.
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