In a rare, swift decision, a federal judge in Texas has sentenced a man to 18 years in prison for hacking an online AOL account.
In a hearing Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Aaron Persky handed down his sentence in a matter of hours after a two-day trial.
Prosecutors said Daniel Eakin, 33, of Katy, Texas, was an expert in computer security and cybercrime.
Persky, however, said the government’s evidence was insufficient and that Eakin’s hacking of AOL accounts had no legal basis.
Prosecutors argued that the defendant breached AOL’s security by creating a fake AOL account, then stealing $2,000 from the accounts of more than 20,000 people.
Eakin pleaded guilty in May.
The U.K.-based AOL was forced to cut ties with Eakin in May, just months after he had started using the account to download a number of movies and music, including a song about the 2008 Olympic Games that was featured on the program.