CT man to plead guilty in 'Celebgate' hacking case

Saturday, 13 Jan, 2018

The man is George Garofano, 26, of Northford, Connecticut, who already pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information. Once he enters the guilty plea, Garofano will face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison, authorities say.

Garofano was involved in an expansive phishing campaign from April 2013 to October 2014 that stole iCloud account information from victims, according to the plea agreement he signed on Thursday.

While the case was filed by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles, the parties have agreed to transfer the case to the District of CT for the entry of Garofano's guilty plea and sentencing. In the emails, he encouraged the victims to send him their usernames and passwords or told them to enter them on a third-party website to which he had access. Investigators say Garofano later traded the account usernames and passwords to others, along with materials he downloaded from the hacked accounts.

The case against Garofano is the fourth case stemming from the Celebgate investigation. As with the other defendants, Garofano also hacked into accounts of many non-celebrities who live in CT. The first was Ryan Collins, 36, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania (sentenced to 18 months in federal prison); the second is Edward Majerczyk, 29, of Chicago, Illinois (sentenced to nine months in federal prison); and the third is Emilio Herrera, 32, of Chicago, Illinois (pleaded guilty and awaiting sentencing next month).

In an email to the Hartford Courant, Garofano's attorney, Richard Lynch, described him as "a good person who was taken advantage of by several hackers more sophisticated than himself".

Co-conspirators: Edward Majerczyk (left), 29, from Chicago, was sentenced a year ago to nine months in federal prison.

Garofano now joins Emilio Herrera, Edward Majerczyk and Ryan Collins among the suspects that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been able to identify as having hacked into the celebrities' digital accounts in 2013 and 2014.

Speaking about the scandal in an interview with Vanity Fair, Lawrence said she was "just so afraid".