Friday, March 14, 2003

MU student guilty of misdemeanor in e-mail hoax

By Jon Gambrell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

OXFORD - A Miami University senior pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor charge stemming from an e-mail hoax.

Benjamin M. Field, 22, of Salem, Ohio, pleaded guilty to attempted unauthorized use of a computer, a first-degree misdemeanor. He had previously faced a felony charge stemming from a hoax e-mail sent to about 31,000 addresses, in which he posed as the university president and "canceled" classes for Green Beer Day.

According to the search warrant filed by Miami University Police, a computer began sending the e-mails just before 7 p.m. the night before Green Beer Day from a wireless network servicing Kreger, Gaskill and Alumni Hall.

That computer had earlier accessed the university's network, but from an address within Time Warner Cable's Roadrunner Internet service. Using information from Time Warner, police said they found that a computer at the apartment Field shared with another student was using that Internet address, leading to Field's arrest.

Judge Robert Lyon said he was aware of the e-mail incident, but knew nothing about Field, who also works at a computer company in Hamilton. Lyon ordered a pre-sentencing investigation.

Field's attorney, Daniel Gattermeyer , said his client committed the hoax without malicious intent.

"This was done with only prankful intent, nothing else," he said.

Gattermeyer said Field's father and grandparents had graduated from Miami and that "Ben was praying to be a Miami grad."

Field could be expelled.


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