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Case Number: 2:19-cr-00071-ODW
Judge: Otis D. Wright, II
Court: United States District Court for the Central District of California (Los Angeles County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: Julia S. Choe
Call 918-582-6422 for help finding a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angles, California for conspiracy to defraud the United States, Threats to Injury Interstate Commerce, Intentionally Damaging a Computer by Knowing Transmission, or Interstate Threat to Damage a Protected Compuer with Intent to Extort charges.
Description: Los Angeles, CA - The United States of America charged Timothy Dalton Vaughn, a/k/a wantedbyfeds, wanted, Hackers_R-Us, HDGZero, and Xavier Harbel with conspiracy to defraud the United States, Threats to Injury Interstate Commerce, Intentionally Damaging a Computer by Knowing Transmission, and Interstate Threat to Damage a Protected Compuer with Intent to Extort.
A North Carolina man pleaded guilty today to federal charges of making bogus threats of shootings and bombings to schools in the United Kingdom and the United States, including numerous schools in Southern California.
Timothy Dalton Vaughn, 21, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, also admitted making false reports of a plane hijacking and conducting computer attacks, as well as possessing child pornography.
Vaughn – who used online handles that include “WantedbyFeds” and “Hacker_R_US” – pleaded guilty this afternoon to possession of child pornography, conspiring to make threats and damage a computer, and computer hacking.
Authorities have linked Vaughn to the Apophis Squad, a worldwide collective of computer hackers and swatters intent on using the Internet to cause chaos. The collective caused disruptions by making threatening phone calls, sending bogus reports of violent school attacks via email, and launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on websites. Vaughn and another man were named earlier this year in a grand jury indictment that alleged a series of cyber and swatting attacks in 2018, including threats of bombs and school shootings that were “designed to cause fear of imminent danger and did cause the closure of hundreds of schools on two continents on multiple occasions.”
Vaughn specifically admitted today that he provided to his co-defendant contact information for at least 86 school districts that received emailed threats of an armed student. The threatened attacks included the imminent detonation of a bomb made with ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, bombs placed under school transportation vehicles, and the placement of explosives under school buses and on sports fields, according to Vaughn’s plea agreement.
In a plea agreement filed in relation to today’s hearing, Vaughn admitted that in early 2018 he demanded 1.5 bitcoin (then worth approximately $20,000) from Hoonigan, a Long Beach motorsport company, to prevent denial-of-service attacks on its website. When the company refused to pay, he launched a DDoS attack that disabled hoonigan.com.
Vaughn also admitted helping his co-defendant make a false report of a hijacking on a United Airlines plane flying from London to San Francisco.
In relation to the child pornography count, Vaughn admitted possessing nearly 200 sexually explicit images and videos depicting children, including at least one toddler.
As a result of his guilty pleas, Vaughn will face a statutory maximum sentence of 35 years in federal prison when he is sentenced by United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II on June 8.
The second defendant named in the indictment – George Duke-Cohan, 20, of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, who used online handles that included “DigitalCrimes” and “7R1D3N7” – is currently serving a prison sentence in Britain for the false report of the hijacking. Duke-Cohan is charged in the indictment with nine counts. If he were to be convicted, Duke-Cohan would face a statutory maximum sentence of 65 years in federal prison.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case is the result of an investigation by the FBI with assistance provided by the United States Secret Service as part of the Electronic Crimes Task Force.
CONSPIRACY TO DEFRAUD THE UNITED STATES
18:2252A(a)(5)(B),(b)(2): Possession of Child Pornography
18:875(c); 2(a): Threats to Injure in Interstate Commerce; Aiding and Abetting
18:844(e),2(a): Interstate Threats Involving Explosives; Aiding and Abetting
18:1030(a)(5)(A),(c)(4)(B)(i), (c)(4)(A)(i)(I): Intentionally Damaging a Computer by Knowing Transmission
18:1030(a)(7),(c)(3)(A):Interstate Threat to Damage a Protected Computer with Intent to Extort
Outcome: 11/25/2019 42 MINUTES OF Change of Plea Hearing held before Judge Otis D. Wright, II as to Defendant Timothy Dalton Vaughn. Defendant sworn. Court questions defendant regarding the plea. The Defendant Timothy Dalton Vaughn (1) pleads GUILTY to Count 1,1s,10. The plea is accepted. The Court ORDERS the preparation of a Presentence Report. Sentencing set for 6/8/2020 10:00 AM. Position papers are due 2 weeks before the sentencing. If the papers are NOT submitted in time, they will not be considered. All dates other than the sentencing hearing date are vacated as to this defendant. Court Smart: C/S: 11-25-19. (lc) (Entered: 11/26/2019)