Jim Kouri
Sarah Palin's internet hacker sentenced to federal incarceration
By Jim Kouri
November 15, 2010

David C. Kernell, 23, was sentenced on Friday to only one year and one day in prison for intentionally accessing without authorization the e-mail account of former Alaska governor and GOP vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, as well as the charge of obstruction of justice. But there was never a mention of his affiliation with the discredited advocacy group ACORN.

U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Phillips also imposed a three-year term of supervised released on the suspect who resides in Tennessee. In imposing the prison sentence, Judge Phillips recommended service at Midway Sanction Center, but noted that the Bureau of Prisons would decide where Kernell would serve his sentence.

The judge indicated that Kernell appeared to be in need to psychiatric treatment. In addition, Kernell publicly apologized to Ms. Palin for his invasion of her privacy.

But some observers of the Kernell case believe he received a lenient sentence from a judge who sounded more like defense attorney than an unbiased arbiter of justice. Also, Kernell is the son of Mike Kernell, a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives.

"If this had been a man who hacked into Nancy Pelosi's private e-mail account, do you think this judge would be so lenient and understanding? I don't," said former police detective Mike Snopes.

This case was investigated by the FBI's Anchorage, Alaska, and Knoxville field offices. However, unlike the FBI, the Law Enforcement Examiner Jim Kouri discovered that Kernell worked as a volunteer for the left-wing group ACORN. One of his blog entries reads as follows:

Heading over to the ACORN offices to help fill out voter registration cards. 11:18 am on October 8, 2008

On April 30, 2010, after a week-long trial, a jury found Kernell guilty of one count of misdemeanor unauthorized access to obtain information from a computer and one count of obstruction of justice. The jury found Kernell not guilty of wire fraud.

The jury could not reach a verdict on the identity theft charge and the judge declared a mistrial as to that charge.

According to evidence presented at trial, on September 16, 2008, Kernell, a resident of Knoxville, Tennessee, obtained unauthorized access Ms. Palin's personal e-mail account by resetting the account password. Evidence showed that after answering a series of security questions that allowed him to reset the password and gain access to the e-mail account, Kernell read the contents of the account and made screenshots of the e-mail directory, e-mail content and other personal information.

Kernell then posted screenshots of the e-mails and other personal information to a public web site. Kernell also posted the new e-mail account password that he had created, thus providing access to the account by others.

Evidence at trial showed that Kernell became aware on September 16, 2008, after the illegal entry into the email account, of a possible FBI investigation. Evidence showed that Kernell began a series of deletions of records and documents with the intent to impede an anticipated FBI investigation.

No politician since Richard M. Nixon has experienced the meanspirited, vitriolic and visceral attacks by the news media than Sarah Palin. For instance, just recently Kathleen Parker, a newspaper columnist and co-host of CNN's "Parker Spitzer," boasted of her leading the "assassination" of Sarah Palin — targeting her as a lightweight who had no business running for national office.

© Jim Kouri


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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)


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