By GINA BARTON
gbarton @ journalsentinel.com
Nov. 30, 2005
A computer expert who caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of
damage in 13 Wisconsin counties won't get out of prison until 2022.
Joseph D. Konopka, 29, who adopted the moniker "Dr. Chaos" during his
crime spree, was sentenced on 11 felony charges Wednesday in federal
court in Milwaukee. Konopka, formerly of De Pere, earlier was
sentenced to 13 years in prison as a result of federal charges in
Chicago, where he was convicted of two felonies for hiding cyanide in
an underground tunnel near the subway system. During Wednesday's
hearing, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman added seven years to that
It was the second Milwaukee sentencing hearing for Konopka, who won a
new sentence on appeal.
Charges against Konopka included conspiracy, arson, creating
counterfeit software and interfering with computers. Using the
Internet, he recruited a group of teenage boys and young men known as
"The Realm of Chaos" to help him in the crimes.
The group's actions caused about 28 power failures and 20 other
service interruptions at power plants throughout Wisconsin, court
records show. The group also set buildings on fire, disrupted radio
and television broadcasts, disabled an air traffic control system,
sold counterfeit software and damaged the computer system of an
Internet service provider, according to court records.
In 2003, after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors, Konopka
pleaded guilty to six felonies in connection with the Wisconsin
crimes. After his first sentencing hearing, during which Adelman
handed down a 23-year prison term, Konopka asked to withdraw those
pleas. Konopka argued that when he made the deal with prosecutors, he
did not realize that one of the accusations - an explosives charge -
carried a mandatory 10-year sentence that wouldn't begin until after
he had served his 13 years on the Chicago counts.
The appeals court ruled in Konopka's favor, after which he pleaded
guilty to 11 counts. Prosecutors promised him nothing in exchange.
At the sentencing hearing Tuesday, Konopka's attorney, Bridget
Boyle-Saxton, asked for a 17-year prison term, with 13 of those years
to be served at the same time as the Chicago sentence. In essence,
Boyle-Saxton asked that Konopka do only four more years for the
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Ingraham asked for a completely
consecutive sentence, pointing out that Konopka's actions had caused
"damage, destruction, inconvenience and anguish" for thousands of
Ingraham also told the judge that state prosecutors in the counties
where Konopka committed crimes would only agree not to prosecute him
there if he got at least a 20-year prison term.
Adelman fashioned a sentence that will net Konopka 20 years in prison
between the federal cases in Illinois and Wisconsin.
Before imposing sentence, Adelman said it was hard to understand why
Konopka had embarked on a crime spree. "It's extremely fortunate that
no one was hurt or killed," he said.
Konopka also must pay about $436,000 in restitution and spend three
years on supervised release after prison.
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