Dem Lawmaker’s Son Indicted for Hacking Palin’s E-mail

WASHINGTON – The son of a Democratic Tennessee lawmaker has been indicted for illegally accessing the e-mail account of Alaska governor Sarah Palin, the feds said today.

David C. Kernell, 20, the son of state Rep. Mike Kernell, of Memphis, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Knoxville, Tenn., Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney James R. Dedrick for the Eastern District of Tennessee said. Kernell turned himself into federal authorities for arrest and will be arraigned today before U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley.

The single count indictment, returned on Oct. 7, 2008, and unsealed today, alleges that on Sept. 16, 2008, Kernell, a resident of Knoxville, obtained unauthorized access to Gov. Palin’s personal e-mail account by allegedly resetting the account password.

According to the indictment, after answering a series of security questions that allowed him to reset the password and gain access to the e-mail account, Kernell allegedly read the contents of the account and made screenshots of the e-mail directory, e-mail content and other personal information. According to the indictment, Kernell posted screenshots of the e-mails and other personal information to a public Web site. Kernell also allegedly posted the new e-mail account password that he had created, thus providing access to the account by others.

If convicted of the charge, the defendant faces a maximum of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a three year term of supervised release. A trial date has not been set.

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