Man Accused of Hacking Steubenville Website Is Sentenced

The man who gained control of a local Steubenville Big Red sports fan website in December 2012 was sentenced to eight months in prison this week.

Noah McHugh, 26, of Alexandria, Va., pleaded guilty in a Lexington, Va., federal courtroom in September to a charge of accessing a computer without authorization.

On Dec. 23, 2012, the website was compromised with a video and message posted from someone identifying himself as with “KnightSec” and also with “Anonymous” — an internationally known hacker-activist group.

In a February 2013, McHugh said he helped gain control of the website to shed light on a local rape investigation involving two Steubenville High School student-athletes.

“I wanted to just get the word out,” McHugh said at the time. “The story sounded a bit shady, so I figured I would help.”

After the site was compromised, the video and demands made went viral on the Internet and on social media websites. The effort drew national media attention.

According to information from the office of Assistant U.S. Attorney Neeraj Gupta, McHugh’s crime involved “groundlessly defaming him (the website owner) on his own website as a child pornographer and the director of a ‘rape crew.’” The information from Gupta was contained in Monday’s sentencing memorandum.

The two key players in the initial website hack turned to Twitter and started a conversation with supporters and, to a certain degree, detractors. The individual who appeared in the video wearing the Guy Fawkes mask went by the KYAnonymous Twitter screen name.

KYAnonymous also took credit for organizing “OperationRollRedRoll,” which put together the first of several protest rallies in Steubenville.

Deric Lostutter, of Winchester, Ky., later identified as being “KYAnonymous,” was indicted on July 7 by a federal grand jury for his role in the hacking.

In his plea arrangement, McHugh admitted to helping Lostutter with the 2012 website hack.

Lostutter pleaded guilty in federal court on Nov. 23 to one count of unauthorized access of a computer and to giving a false statement to the FBI, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey. He is scheduled to be sentenced in March.


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