A 23-year-old man suspected of helping to hack into Sony's PlayStation Network got out of being penalized for the crime by smashing his computers and making his hard drives disappear.
Todd M. Miller, of Columbus, in the US state of Ohio, was sentenced on Thursday to a year on house arrest for obstructing a federal investigation and stymying an FBI investigation into the hack.
According to The Columbus Dispatch, the judge also sentenced Miller to three years probation and ordered him to get his high-school equivalence certificate.
US District Judge Peter C. Economus said in federal court that Miller was a member of a hacking group called the KCUF clan that, starting in 2008, organized an ongoing attack on Sony’s servers.
The hack took the PlayStation Network offline in April 2011. Sony soon realized that the breach had enabled the attackers to access the personal data, including credit card information, of millions of online gamers.
The April attack ushered in a series of over a dozen attacks against Sony websites around the world that played out over the following months.
Sony wound up getting fined £250,000 ($383,767) by the UK's Information Commissioner's Office for breaching the Data Protection Act in connection with the hacks.
The FBI initially interviewed Miller in 2011.
When they came back with a search warrant, they found that his hard drives were nowhere to be found and that Miller had smashed his computers.
Without the computers, the FBI didn't have enough to prosecute Miller or another unnamed Columbus man on the hacking charges.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that Miller has a ninth-grade education.
Miller told the judge that he was “immature and ignorant and caught up with the wrong people at the wrong time” when he destroyed his hardware but that he's since learned his lesson and that the judge "will not see [him] again."
Were the FBI to have gotten its hands on the hard drives, Miller would have been facing up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Judge Economus said that he saw no purpose to sentencing Miller to prison, given that he has a full-time job and "some stability" after a "tumultuous childhood," the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Your honor, let's hope you're right.