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British cybersecurity expert pleads not guilty to US charges
Legal News | 2017/08/16 23:57
A British cybersecurity researcher credited with helping curb a recent worldwide ransomware attack pleaded not guilty Monday to federal charges accusing him of creating malicious software to steal banking information three years ago.

Marcus Hutchins entered his plea in Wisconsin federal court, where prosecutors charged him and an unnamed co-defendant with conspiring to commit computer fraud in the state and elsewhere. Authorities arrested the 23-year-old man on Aug. 2 at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, where he was going to board a flight to his home in Ilfracombe, England. He had been in Las Vegas for a cybersecurity convention.

Hutchins is free on $30,000 bail, but with strict conditions. His bond has been modified so that he can stay in Los Angeles near his attorney and travel anywhere in the U.S., but Hutchins is not allowed to leave the country. He is currently staying at a hotel in Milwaukee.

He was also granted access to use a computer for work, a change from an earlier judge's order barring him from using any device with access to the internet. Hutchins' current work wasn't detailed at Monday's hearing. The next hearing in the case was set for Oct. 17.

Hutchins' attorney, Adrian Lobo, hasn't responded to several phone messages left by The Associated Press over the last week.

The legal troubles Hutchins faces are a dramatic turnaround from the status of cybercrime-fighting hero he enjoyed four months ago when he found a "kill switch" to slow the outbreak of the WannaCry virus. It crippled computers worldwide, encrypting files and making them inaccessible unless people paid a ransom ranging from $300 to $600.

Prosecutors allege that before Hutchins won acclaim he created and distributed a malicious software called Kronos to steal banking passwords from unsuspecting computer users. In addition to computer fraud, the indictment lists five other charges, including attempting to intercept electronic communications and trying to access a computer without authorization.

The indictment says the crimes happened between July 2014 and July 2015, but the court document doesn't offer any details about the number of victims. Prosecutors have not said why the case was filed in Wisconsin. The name of Hutchins' co-defendant is redacted from the indictment.



UK court increases sentence for surgeon who maimed patients
Legal News | 2017/08/04 11:02
Britain's appeals court has increased to 20 years the prison sentence of a surgeon convicted of performing unnecessary operations, leaving scores of patients maimed and some in constant pain.

Ian Paterson falsely told patients they had cancer and performed operations including mastectomies. He was convicted of crimes against 10 patients in May and sentenced to 15 years. Prosecutors believe there were many more victims.

The government challenged the sentence, and three appeals judges agreed Thursday that it was "unduly lenient."

One of the judges, Heather Hallet, said "greed, self-aggrandizement, power" and other possible motives "do not come close to explaining how a doctor can falsely tell a patient he or she has cancer when they have not."

She said the victims "must feel no sentence could properly reflect their suffering."



Ronaldo tells judge he has 'never tried to avoid taxes'
Legal News | 2017/07/31 11:03
Cristiano Ronaldo told a Spanish judge Monday that he has "never tried to avoid taxes."

The Real Madrid forward, who is from Portugal, was questioned to determine whether he committed tax fraud worth almost 15 million euros ($17.5 million). Ronaldo spent more than 90 minutes answering the questions of investigating judge Monica Gomez.

According to a statement released by his public relations firm, the 32-year-old Ronaldo told the judge: "I have never hidden anything, and never tried to avoid taxes."

Judge Gomez took Ronaldo's testimony as part of an investigation to determine if there are grounds to charge him. The session at Pozuelo de Alarcon Court No. 1 on the outskirts of Madrid was closed to the public because it is part of an ongoing investigation.

In June, a state prosecutor accused Ronaldo of four counts of tax fraud from 2011-14 worth 14.7 million euros ($16.5 million). The prosecutor accused the Portugal forward of having used shell companies outside Spain to hide income made from image rights. The accusation does not involve his salary from Real Madrid. Ronaldo denies any wrongdoing.

"Spain's Tax Office knows all the details about my sources of income because we have reported them," Ronaldo told the judge, according to his statement. "I always file my tax returns because I think that we should all file and pay our taxes.

"Those who know me know that I tell my consultants that they must have everything in order and paid up to date because I don't want trouble."

Both before and after his court appearance, Ronaldo used an alternative entrance to avoid a large swarm of more than a hundred journalists from Spain and aboard gathered near the main door to the court.

Court officials had said that either Ronaldo or his lawyer would speak to the media after he saw the judge, but instead the player's spokesman, Inaki Torres, stepped up to the temporary podium in front of the courthouse to announce that Ronaldo "was on his way home."

The prosecutor said in June that Ronaldo used what was deemed a shell company in the Virgin Islands to "create a screen in order to hide his total income from Spain's Tax Office."

The prosecutor accused Ronaldo of declaring 11.5 million euros ($12.8 million) earned from 2011-14 in a tax return filed in 2014, when the prosecutor said Ronaldo's real income during that period was almost 43 million euros ($48 million). It added that Ronaldo falsely claimed the income as coming from real estate, which "greatly" reduced his tax rate.



Top court to hear case that could reshape US political map
Legal News | 2017/06/19 10:02
The Supreme Court will take up a momentous fight over parties manipulating electoral districts to gain partisan advantage in a case that could affect the balance of power between Democrats and Republicans across the United States.

At issue is whether Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin drew legislative districts that favored their party and were so out of whack with the state's political breakdown that they violated the constitutional rights of Democratic voters.

It will be the high court's first case in more than a decade on what's known as partisan gerrymandering. A lower court struck down the districts as unconstitutional last year.

The justices won't hear the arguments until the fall, but the case has already taken on a distinctly ideological, if not partisan, tone. Just 90 minutes after justices announced Monday that they would hear the case, the five more conservative justices voted to halt a lower court's order to redraw the state's legislative districts by November, in time for next year's elections.

The four more liberal justices, named to the court by Democrats, would have let the new line-drawing proceed even as the court considers the issue.

That divide could be significant. One factor the court weighs in making such decisions is which side seems to have a better chance of winning.

Republicans who control the state legislature assured the court that they could draw new maps in time for the 2018 elections, if the court strikes down the districts. If the state wins, there'll be no need for new districts.

Democrats hope a favorable decision will help them cut into Republican electoral majorities. Election law experts say the case is the best chance yet for the high court to put limits on what lawmakers may do to gain a partisan advantage in creating political district maps.

Both parties have tried to get the largest partisan edge when they control redistricting. Yet Democrats are more supportive of having courts rein in extreme districting plans, mainly because Republicans control more legislatures and drew districts after the 2010 census that enhanced their advantage in those states and in the House of Representatives.



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