By Richard Arneson
Unless you consider ten (10) years in the hoosegow some odd form of payment, it’s widely known that (all together now) crime doesn’t pay. Martin Gottesfeld, 34-year-old Massachusetts knucklehead, just got reminded of it the hard way, though. He got sentenced to a decade behind bars for cyberattacking two (2) medical facilities on behalf of Anonymous, a hacking activist group (What happened to the days when activist groups tried to get people to vote more or advance women’s rights?). The cyberattacks were launched to protest the treatment of a teen in a high-profile custody case. The sentence was handed down on January 7th, four (4) months after a federal jury found him guilty on two (2) counts, including conspiracy to damage protected computers. His cyberattacks, which occurred in 2014, targeted Boston Children’s Hospital and another nearby medical facility.
Gottesfeld, a computer engineer who hails from the Boston suburb of Somerville, MA, dreamed up his attack after learning about a child custody case involving a teenage girl. Gottesfeld shared the views of several political and religious groups who decided the government’s interference in the case unjustly trumped parental rights.
The teenager, Justina Pelletier, had been taken into custody by the state of Massachusetts after it determined her parents, who insisted their daughter’s health issues were not psychiatric in nature, were interfering with her treatment. Gottesfeld, whose information about the case came from news stories, decided the hospital had misdiagnosed Pelletier. He determined the best way to combat a faulty diagnosis was to launch DDoS attacks on Boston Children’s Hospital and Wayside Youth & Family Support Network, where Pelletier resided after being discharged from the hospital. Gottesfeld’s attack on the hospital disrupted its network for almost two (2) weeks, and interrupted several services used to treat patients.
While there has been no reported connection with Gottesfeld’s DDoS attacks, just three (3) years ago he was found floating off the Cuban coastline in a motor-challenged boat. He was rescued by a Disney Cruise ship. While it’s unclear if a large mouse or actual crew member led the rescue efforts, they soon learned that they’d pulled aboard an honest-to-goodness fugitive from justice. As it turned out, Gottesfeld had recently fled the United States upon learning he was the target of a federal investigation. Apparently, Gottesfeld is as poor at selecting boats as he is at cyber-crime.
In addition to giving up a hundred and twenty-one (121) months of freedom, Gottesfeld is required to pay almost $450,000 in restitution, an especially steep price considering he’ll be making about fifty (50) cents an hour until 2029. He should be getting fairly used to living behind bars, though. He was originally taken into custody almost three (3) years ago. Naturally, he has plans to appeal his conviction, but insists he has no regrets.
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