Former Morgan Stanley Coder Gets 2 Years in Prison for TJX Hack

Former Morgan Stanley Coder Gets 2 Years in Prison for TJX Hack
Former Morgan Stanley Coder Gets 2 Years in Prison for TJX Hack

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By Kim Zetter
Threat Level
December 22, 2009

The two great friends talked every day and shared information about all 
of their exploits - sexual, narcotic and hacking - according to 
prosecutors. Now another thing they=E2=80=99ll have to share information about 
is their experience in federal prison.

While accused TJX hacker kingpin Albert Gonzalez awaits a possible 
sentence of 17 years or more in prison, one of his best friends and 
accomplices was sentenced on Tuesday in Boston to two years for his role 
in what the feds are calling "the largest identity theft in our nation=E2=80=99s 

Stephen Watt, a 25-year-old former Morgan Stanley software engineer, 
pleaded guilty last December to creating a custom sniffing program 
dubbed "blabla" that Gonzalez and other hackers used to siphon millions 
of credit and debit card numbers from TJX's network. The breach cost TJX 
$200 million, according to its 2009 SEC filing.

Watt=E2=80=99s lawyer had sought a sentence of probation.

But instead the 7-foot-tall coder who once had a bright professional 
future got two years in federal prison and three years of probation. A 
spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney=E2=80=99s office in Massachusetts said the 
judge also ordered Watt to pay restitution to TJX in the amount of 
$171.5 million.


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