Feds Drop "Hacking" Charges Against Video Poker Jackpot Winners
May 8, 2013 9:50 AM
comment(s) - last by
Men still face a single count of wire fraud for exploiting bug in the machines
Following an outburst of public outcry over a pair of men
facing up to five years in federal prison
for "exceeding authorized use" and
exploiting a bug in video poker casino machines to win big
, the two charged counts under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 (
18 USC § 1030
) have been dropped.
U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada
Federal Judge Miranda Du
cited a recent
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
[PDF], which sought to more strictly confine the ambiguous wording of the CFAA to prevent abuse. She demanded prosecutors to justify their use under the 9th Circuit's
ruling; federal prosecutors were unable to so they dropped the CFAA charges against co-defendants John Kane, 54, and Andre Nestor, 41.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Chu wrote in a
[PDF] obtained by
, "The United States of America, by and through the undersigned attorneys, hereby moves this Court to dismiss Counts 2 and 3 of the Indictment."
Prosecutors had argued previously that the sequence of buttons needed to activate the programming error constituted "hacking". But they were unable to defend that opinion in the face of the recent regional scale-back of the CFAA, when defense lawyers argued that the co-defendants were simply playing by the rules of the machine (rules which were broken).
The pair used their trick on the Game King multi-game machine. [Image Source: IGT]
That leaves a single count of wire fraud against each man. The wire fraud charges (
18 U.S.C. § 1343
) are built on the premise that the defendants used phone conversations to plan to defraud the plaintiffs (the casinos), a federal offense. Of course, given that the feds couldn't even make the accusation that they "hacked" (a form of fraud) stick, the fraud-based claim seems pretty questionable.
Mr. Kane's counsel --
, a veteran LV lawyer -- comments, "The case never should have been filed under the CFAA, it should have been just a straight wire fraud case. And I'm not sure its even a wire fraud. I guess we'll find out when we go to trial.'"
In a previous interview he had stated, "They’re going to have real tough time with the wire fraud. I never really understood why the federal government took this case in the first place."
Now with one victory in hand he looks to beat back this final federal charge.
U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada via Wired [PDF]
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
5/8/2013 7:46:53 PM
The keyword is intent. In your trespassing example the intent is the act of trespassing which is itself illegal. The intent of a hacker is to gain unauthorized access and/or do any number of illegal activities.
The intent when playing a slot machine is to win money which is not illegal. As long as you play the game without doing anything illegal then you have not done anything wrong in my opinion.
"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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