FORMER CITY OF HOBOKEN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY MANAGER CHARGED FOR ALLEGEDLY INTERCEPTING, DISCLOSING E-MAIL OF HOBOKEN MAYOR AND TOP CITY OFFICIALS
NEWARK, N.J. – A former management information systems specialist for the city of Hoboken, N.J., surrendered this morning to special agents of the FBI to face allegations that he intercepted communications meant for the current mayor of Hoboken and top city officials and passed them on to other current and former city officials, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Patrick Ricciardi, 45, of Hoboken, is charged in a federal criminal Complaint with one count each of accessing a computer without authorization, interception of wire and electronic communications, and disclosure of intercepted wire and electronic communications. Ricciardi is scheduled to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor in Newark federal court.
“According to the Complaint, Ricciardi spied on official e-mails to a sitting mayor and shared them with others, even setting up software to automate his intrusion,” said U.S. Attorney Fishman. “Entrusted with the city of Hoboken’s IT infrastructure, Ricciardi allegedly abused that access to divert communications about city business to those who had no business seeing them. Even by those on the inside, breaches of computer security not only violate privacy, they violate federal law.”
According to the criminal Complaint unsealed today:
Ricciardi was a longstanding employee of the city of Hoboken and worked as the chief information technology officer for the mayor’s office. As part of his job duties, Ricciardi was responsible for keeping the city’s network running, and had access to e-mail accounts within the city’s computer system and other aspects of the city’s computer network.
Beginning in April 2011, employees of the mayor’s office became suspicious that the subject matter of e-mails they were sending amongst themselves were being somehow “leaked” to outside parties. The city hired a private security consultant to perform a security audit on computers located within the mayor’s office. The audit revealed an e-mail archive file on the hard drive of Ricciardi’s work computer.
The FBI’s investigation revealed that the archive file had been set up to intercept and store all e-mails sent to the mayor and certain of the mayor’s employees. Neither the mayor nor any other city employee authorized the creation of the archive file or the storage of any e-mails in it.
The archive file was not a standard backup kept in the normal course of business, as it did not follow information technology best practices such as the use of tape backups or other electronic media that systematically save data. True backup systems are housed remotely on a server or other external location. Instead, the software had been configured so that all e-mails sent to the mayor would automatically download into the archive file as they were sent.
E-mails from the archive file, which were intended for the mayor and the mayor’s employees, had been forwarded to at least three current or former City municipal employees, who were not intended recipients. Specifically, Ricciardi forwarded email exchanges between the mayor and high-ranking city employees from his personal email account.
Each of the three counts of the Complaint carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Fishman praised special agents of the FBI’s Cyber Crimes Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark, for the ongoing investigation leading to the charges.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Zach Intrater of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Section in the Office’s Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Link to release: http://www.justice.gov/usao/nj/Press/files/Ricciardi,%20Patrick%20Surrender%20News%20Release.html ◦