Man Gets Longest Term for Hacker : Computers: Kevin Lee Poulsen, 29, of North Hollywood is ordered jailed for 51 months for rigging telephone lines during radio call-in contests.


A computer hacker who rigged telephone lines to win contests sponsored by local radio stations was sentenced Monday to 51 months in federal prison--the longest hacker sentence ever--and ordered to pay more than $58,000 in restitution, authorities said.

Kevin Lee Poulsen, 29, of North Hollywood pleaded guilty in June to using computers to rig telephones at KIIS-FM, KPWR-FM and KRTH in 1989 and 1992. The stations offered prizes for contestants whose calls reached the studio in a certain order, and Poulsen and his friends rigged telephone lines at stations so they would be the winning callers.

They won two Porsches, two giveaways for $20,000, one for $10,000 and at least two trips to Hawaii, Schindler said.


“The sentence was the longest ever doled out to a computer hacker,” said Assistant U.S. Atty. David Schindler.

The federal sentencing guidelines call for three years, but the judge gave Poulsen an extra 15 months because of the magnitude of his crimes, Schindler said.

Operating under the hacker moniker “Dark Dante,” authorities said, Poulsen jeopardized federal agents when he broke into a Pacific Bell computer in August, 1989, to get information about FBI wiretaps on him, he said.

Two years later, Los Angeles prosecutors announced the indictment against him for the radio-station contest swindles and FBI wiretaps, he said.

Poulsen has been in custody since his arrest in Los Angeles in April, 1991, on a federal warrant for espionage-related charges in San Jose, where he is accused of acquiring a classified 1987 Air Force order listing targets in case of nuclear war.

Last June, he pleaded guilty to seven counts of conspiracy, fraud, and intercepting wire communications in connection with the contest-rigging scheme.

Poulsen’s attorney, Michael J. Brennan, said he would appeal the sentence.

The judge also placed Poulsen on three years of supervised release after he serves his time and ordered him not to own, use or work on a computer or program without permission from his probation officer.