Saturday, July 20, 2013

Watching the Criminal Justice System: Matthew Weaver-Identity Theft

Twenty-two year old business major Matthew Weaver wanted the student president title at Cal State San Marcos. He wanted the $8,000 stipend that came with it and control of the $300,000 annual budget. He rigged the vote, got caught, and is heading to prison for one year.

Weaver admits to using small electronic devices that record a computer's key strokes to steal 745 passwords and then used that stolen information to cast 630 votes for himself and his friend who were also on the ballot.

Weaver pleaded guilty to felony charges, to stealing log in information for 700 fellow students so that he could cast phony votes to elect himself class president. He pleaded guilty to 3 counts of wire fraud, unauthorized access to a computer, and identity theft. Although he was sentenced to one year in jail, 27 months is the low end of the spectrum for federal identity theft cases.

Interestingly enough, Weaver's attorney felt his client's crimes really didn't warrant a felony conviction. "Mr. Weaver is a very bright guy and this was really, really stupid. But, does it warrant having a felony conviction for the rest of his life?"

The criminal justice system is full of prisoners who did something really stupid, like holding a small amount of marijuana for their personal use, that netted them a felony conviction. It seems to matter how the victim is "perceived" and how that perception result is light  or stiff penalties.

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