A federal magistrate Friday refused to dismiss a felony charge against a former Cornell University computer whiz accused of planting a "worm" program that shut down about 6,000 computers nationwide.
Defense attorney Thomas Guidoboni claimed federal prosecutors broke an agreement with defendant Robert Tappan Morris Jr., 24, of Arnold, Md., by telling reporters that the government might allow Morris to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, instead of facing trial on a felony charge, and he argued that the "blanket indictment" was not specific enough in its charges.
Trial lawyers for the U.S. Justice Department argued that, even if a prosecutor erred in releasing information, there were not sufficient grounds to throw out the charge.
Morris pleaded not guilty on Aug. 2. He could face five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and an order to make restitution to anyone adversely affected by the incident.