Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, September 7, 2001


Page 4


U.S. Attorney to Fight Cybercrime With New Computer Crimes Section


By a MetNews Staff Writer


U.S. Attorney John S. Gordon yesterday pledged to fight cybercrime as he announced the creation of a new section to prosecute high-technology and intellectual property offenses.

“Cybercrime is a growing area of concern, and my office intends to attack it aggressively,” Gordon, the chief federal prosecutor in the Central District of California, said in a statement. Prosecutors in the new Computer Crimes Section will handle cases involving computer intrusions, denial of service attacks, virus and worm proliferation, electronic wiretapping, and telecommunications fraud.

The new section will also be responsible for prosecuting intellectual property offenses, including copyright and trademark infringement, software piracy, theft of trade secrets and economic espionage. Lawyers in the Computer Crimes Section will also coordinate training programs on the crimes for law enforcement officers at local, state, and federal levels.

The Computer Crimes Section will also work to encourage victims to report computer crime and intellectual property offenses to law enforcement, Gordon said. The new section is a result of an order made on July 20 by Attorney General John Ashcroft to a number of U.S. attorney’s offices to create prosecutorial units dedicated to battling computer-related and intellectual property crimes.

Also included in the program, which is patterned after the Computer Crimes Section created in the Northern District of California, are the U.S. attorney’s offices in San Diego; Brooklyn; Manhattan; Atlanta; Boston; Alexandria, Va.; Dallas and Seattle.

Gordon’s office was given two new attorney positions along with several support staff to create the new unit.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Arif Alikhan will be spearheading the section, which also includes Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elena Duarte, James Spertus, Wesley Hsu, Christopher Johnson and Jackie Chooljian.

The Santa Ana branch of the U.S. Attorney’s Office will have two assistant U.S. attorneys—Tom McConville and Doug McCormick—prosecuting Orange County computer crimes.

“The members of the new Computer Crimes Section are dedicated to vigorously prosecuting those responsible for cybercrime in the district,” Gordon said.

A four-year veteran of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Alikhan has focused on prosecuting complex computer intrusion cases for the past two years, including that of Jason Allen Diekman, who was convicted of hacking into NASA computers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena along with hundreds of other computers across the country.

The Central District has become a popular target for cybercriminals due to the numerous high-tech companies, universities, military bases, defense contractors and the entertainment industry present in the area.

Prior to the creation of the Computer Crimes Section in the Central District, cybercrime prosecution was spread throughout the office, Alikhan said.

“This helps us focus and develop expertise in a fast- paced and ever changing field,” Alikhan said. “I think it shows a positive message to the public that we are dedicated to prosecuting these kinds of crimes,” the prosecutor added.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California prosecutes federal cases in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. Gordon was named interim U.S. attorney by Ashcroft in April following the resignation of Alejandro Mayorkas, an appointee of President Clinton.


Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company