Florida man avoids more prison time for Clinton Foundation hack attempt

FILE PHOTO - Timothy Sedlak is pictured in this undated booking photo

By Nate Raymond

(Reuters) – A Florida man already serving a 42-year sentence for a child pornography conviction on Monday avoided having to serve even more time behind bars for trying to hack the Clinton Foundation’s computer network in 2015.

Timothy Sedlak, 44, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams in Manhattan to 18 months to run concurrently, rather than on top of, a sentence handed down last August based on child pornography being discovered on his computers during the hacking investigation.

Prosecutors said that from June 2015 to July 2015, Sedlak from his residence in Florida made nearly 400,000 unsuccessful attempts to gain unauthorized access to the computer network of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

The investigation into Sedlak, of Ocoee, Florida, predated probes into cyber attacks on the Democratic Party in the 2016 presidential election when Hillary Clinton was the party’s nominee.

U.S. intelligence agencies have said Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered cyber attacks to help then-Republican candidate Donald Trump’s chances of becoming president.

Prosecutors in arguing in court papers that Sedlak deserved up to two years more in prison called the impact of cyber threats “profound.”

“The work of hackers like Sedlak who are motivated to target U.S. government officials and political candidates can have severe consequences of undermining public confidence and trust in our government institutions and political system,” they wrote.

In September 2015, federal agents executed a search warrant on Sedlak’s home and discovered 42 computers, many of which were running a password-cracking program, prosecutors said.

According to court papers, the U.S. Secret Service questioned Sedlak about notes agents found referring to Hillary Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea.

Sedlak, who called himself a private investigator, told the agents he was researching whether charities were unintentionally providing funding to Islamist militant groups, and said the Clintons “came up in his research,” court papers said.

Chelsea Clinton is the vice chair of the foundation, which was started by her father, former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Prosecutors said Sedlak also targeted charities, political organizations, investments firms, law firms and businesses.

Following his arrest, authorities discovered files on his computers containing child pornography, including images depicting Sedlak sexually abusing a toddler, prosecutors said.

Sedlak was separately charged in Florida, where a federal jury in Orlando in May 2016 found him guilty of charges he produced and possessed child pornography.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; editing by Grant McCool)