A man who accessed multiple email accounts and stole nude photos, including those of celebrities, has been sentenced to six months in prison.
After being arrested in 2013—prior to the Fappening—Oregon native Andrew Helton plead guilty in March to felony hacking charges and confessed to using a phishing scam to trick people into sharing their passwords. On Thursday, he was sentenced to six months in prison, plus two years of supervised release.
The judge described the scam as a “very serious invasions of privacy,” but also said he considers the sentencing “part of a new beginning.”
Helton successfully broke into over 360 email accounts and stole 161 “nude or explicit photos” from 13 people, ABC News reports. However, the infamous 2014 Fappening—during which Jennifer Lawrence, Scarlett Johansson and Gabrielle Union were among the famous victims whose nude photos spread online—appears to be a separate incident, according to feds. Federal officials think the pictures Helton accessed weren’t made public. Via ABC:
His attorney contended Helton should not receive a prison sentence because the phishing technique Helton used was not technologically sophisticated. Helton said in lengthy remarks in court that his arrest forced him to confront his mental health issues and change his life.
In court papers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie S. Christensen encouraged the judge to give Helton up to a year in prison. “For more than two years, defendant Andrew Helton targeted, baited, and hooked unsuspecting victims with his phishing e-mails,” she wrote. “He targeted strangers, acquaintances, and celebrities alike. He trolled through their private e-mail accounts, accessing the most private of communications. He systematically pilfered nude and intimate images of his victims and stored them in his own computer for personal use.”
Helton—reportedly diagnosed with bipolar disorder post-arrest—told the court on Thursday, “For the last... five years or so, I’ve been a dead man walking, so to speak. Mental illness took over my life and surrounded everything.” And, “I have a better life now than I could have ever imagined.”
Another hacker believed to be directly involved in the Fappening, Ryan Collins, was arrested in March and accepted a plea deal, though it’s still unclear how exactly the leak happened.