A Baton Rouge man was sentenced to 34 months in a federal prison and ordered to pay over $1.1 million in restitution Thursday for hacking into a Georgia-Pacific plant computer system after he was fired in 2014.
U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson, chief judge for the Middle District of Louisiana, said Brian P. Johnson, 44, caused more than $1.1 million in damage to the plant’s operations when he hacked its computer system multiple times between Feb. 14, 2014, and Feb. 27, 2014, U.S. Attorney Walt Green said in a news release.
Johnson was an IT specialist and systems administrator for the Port Hudson paper mill for almost 15 years and even helped write some of the codes for the machines, but he was fired and escorted from the facility on Feb. 14, 2014. Plant officials would not say at the time why Johnson had be fired.
Officials searched Johnson’s home in Zachary on Feb. 27, 2014, and found his computer had remote connections to the plant computer system. Investigators later found that Johnson hacked the system multiple times between the date he was fired and the search of his home.
He pleaded guilty in February 2016 to intentionally damaging protected computers and admitted to sending harmful codes to the plant’s machines from his home.
In addition to the 34-month sentence and $1.1 million in restitution, Johnson also must surrender computer devices and items used in the hacking. He will report to prison in March.
Green pointed to the case as an example of the threat of cyberattacks.
“This case is a powerful reminder of the very real threat and danger that businesses and individuals face from cyberattacks and other cyber-related criminal activity,” Green said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana started a new cybersecurity initiative in early 2016 to combat cyberattacks by bringing together federal, state and local agencies.