Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Judge denies smartphones to cyber suspect duo - The Tribune-Democrat

PITTSBURGH â€" A western Pennsylvania couple cannot use their smartphones while they await trial on charges of hacking into the computer server of a law firm that fired the woman, a federal judge said.

U.S. District Judge David Cercone disagreed with defense attorneys, saying life without the technology doesn't violate the couple's constitutional rights.

"We survived without smartphones for thousands of years," Cercone said Monday at a bond hearing for Jonathan Cunningham, 28, and his wife, Alyson, 24. "I don't have one."

The Cunninghams were indicted and arrested in June on five charges for allegedly conspiring to hack into employee financial information on the computers of a law firm identified only by the initials "VG" which, the indictment said, fired Alyson Cunningham on Nov. 28.

The Duquesne Heights couple appeared before Cercone on Monday seeking to modify conditions of their pre-trial release on unsecured bond. Their attorneys, specifically, argued that the government has failed to prove they're a threat to the community if their Internet access isn't monitored, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Tuesday.

Assistant federal public defender Marketa Sims argued that taking away Jonathan Cunningham's smartphone is "a severe limitation on his liberty" because he works as a web designer. James Brink, the defense attorney for Alyson Cunningham, argued she needs her phone to look for a new job.

But Cercone agreed with Assistant U.S. Attorney Jimmy Kitchen who said the government isn't denying them Internet access, only unmonitored access. The probation officers who are monitoring the couple before trial say they can't monitor the couple's use of smartphones.

The judge said he'd consider allowing the couple to use their smartphones for email only if probation officials can figure out how to monitor Internet use on the devices.

Authorities won't comment on the alleged victim of the couple's hacking, though Alyson Cunningham's LinkedIn profile shows she used to work as a legal secretary for the Pittsburgh law firm of Voelker & Gricks LLP. The firm has refused to comment on the case.

The Cunninghams have declined to comment.

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