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By Kevin Poulsen
Threat Level
August 10, 2009

A Los Angeles hacker received a slightly reduced sentence Monday of 55 
months in prison for participating in a multi-million computer fraud 
scheme, after a federal judge took into account the man=E2=80=99s diagnosis with 
Asperger=E2=80=99s Syndrome.

Viachelav Berkovich, 34, received five months less than the minimum 
recommended by the probation office and prosecutors, and 23 months less 
than the minimum under federal sentencing guidelines. His co-defendant, 
Nicholas Lakes, 36, was sentenced last month to 70 months for 
masterminding the scheme.

=E2=80=9CThe court tried to make a fair sentence =E2=80=A6 and gave us some of what we 
asked for, and did accept that Mr. Berkovich suffered from Asperger=E2=80=99s,=E2=80=9D 
says Kiana Sloan-Hillier, Berkovich=E2=80=99s defense attorney. =E2=80=9CBut at the same 
time felt that this was serious and that a substantial prison sentence 
was called for to deter others.=E2=80=9D

The sentence comes barely a week after British hacker Gary McKinnon lost 
his High Court appeals to avoid extradition to the U.S., where he=E2=80=99s 
accused of cracking nearly 100 Pentagon and NASA computers in 2001 and 
2002, and allegedly causing $700,000 in damage. McKinnon=E2=80=99s lawyer, and 
legions of UK supporters, have decried the extradition request as 
inhumane because of McKinnon=E2=80=99s recent diagnosis with Asperger=E2=80=99s =E2=80=94 a mild 
form of autism that makes social interactions difficult, and sometimes 
leads to obsessive, repetitive behavior.


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