Ex-Los Alamos Computer Whiz Jailed

Friday, February 9th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The 21-year-old computer whiz accused of causing more than $1 million in damage by hacking into eBay, Qualcomm and other prominent high-tech companies was freed on $50,000 bond Thursday.

Jerome Heckenkamp, who was fired from his probationary position at Los Alamos National Laboratory after his arrest last month, had failed to post the bond by Feb. 1 as ordered by a federal judge in San Jose. He also had to post that amount by Thursday night to satisfy a judge in San Diego.

Heckenkamp contended he didn't have the assets to secure the bond and wasn't a flight risk, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia Trumbull jailed him for several hours Thursday and ordered him to find a way to make bail.

He was released after a friend stepped in to secure the bond. Heckenkamp's father, Thomas, who had refused to put up his house as collateral because he believes his son is being harassed by the authorities, also said he would help secure the bond after all.

Heckenkamp already had surrendered last week in Albuquerque, N.M., but he was released the same afternoon because there was no arrest warrant at the time.

Heckenkamp is accused of hacking or trying to break into computers at eBay Inc., Exodus Communications Inc., Juniper Networks Inc., ETrade Group Inc., Lycos Inc. and Cygnus Support Solutions in 1999. In a separate case in San Diego, Heckenkamp is accused of hacking into Qualcomm Inc. computers to intercept user names and passwords.

Also, federal investigators are looking into allegations Heckenkamp had engaged in hacking while at the University of Wisconsin. He denies all the allegations.

All the alleged incidents occurred before Heckenkamp was employed at the government lab in New Mexico.

The charges carry up to 85 years in prison and $4 million in fines, though federal sentencing guidelines would dictate a much lesser punishment.