oldcomputer.jpgThe sentencing of a former city of San Francisco network engineer convicted of locking the city out of its main computer network in 2008 was postponed today after attorneys asked for more time to prepare various motions and sentencing arguments.

A San Francisco Superior Court jury convicted Terry Childs, 45, on April 27 of one count of felony computer tampering for withholding passwords to the city’s FiberWAN network–which he had been in charge of implementing — from his superiors at the Department of Technology and from police.

Childs was to be sentenced today, but the defense and prosecution agreed to continue the hearing until next month.

Childs, of Pittsburg, was jailed in July 2008 while the city remained locked out of the network for 12 days. The network handles about 60 percent of the traffic for city departments.

No harm was done to the network, but prosecutors feared that Childs, who clashed with his coworkers, could have installed traps on the system that could cripple the city. Childs eventually agreed to give Mayor Gavin Newsom the passwords.

Prosecutors charged him with felony computer tampering with an allegation that the tampering cost the city more than $200,000. The full cost of regaining control of the network and doing vulnerability testing has been estimated at close to $1 million.

Childs testified at trial that he never intended to harm the network but that other employees were not qualified to have the passwords under established industry guidelines for network engineers.

Jurors were not convinced.

Childs is now facing a two- to five-year prison sentence, but would receive credit for time already served in jail. He is also facing an order to pay restitution to the city.

Childs’ attorney, Richard Shikman, today asked Judge Teri Jackson to postpone sentencing until July 2 so that he could complete motions arguing Jackson should be lenient.

Jackson agreed to postpone the hearing, saying she wanted more information before making her sentencing decision.

“I don’t know what I am going to do, and I’d like to have all the facts,” Jackson said.
Both the defense and the prosecution are to submit arguments.

Jackson told Childs “there is a substantial amount of restitution” under the jury’s decision, and informed him that he would have a right to challenge the amount at a future hearing.

Childs is now scheduled to be sentenced July 2 at 10:30 a.m.

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