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Ex-High School Teacher was sentenced to prison in the 2014 Celebgate Hacking Case


An ex-high school teacher of Virginia was sentenced on Friday (i.e. on March 1, 2019) to almost 3 yrs. in the prison for hacking the private digital accounts of the celebrities and others.

Christopher Brannan becomes the fifth person, who was charged in 2014 "celebgate" scandal. In this "celebgate" scandal, hackers obtained the nude photographs along with other personal information from over 200 people. Celebrity actresses such as Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Jennifer Lawrence said that they were victims.

Prosecutors alleged in the court documents that ex-high school teacher Brannan hacked the email accounts just by answering the security questions, which he can simply research by reviewing the Facebook accounts of the victims. They also said that Brannan by using the phishing email accounts, which are designed to appear like Apple's security accounts, gained access to the private accounts. After this, Brannan searched for the personal information that includes nude photographs in the victim's email accounts.

Brannan, aged 31 yrs., pleaded guilty in the month of October of last year to aggravated identity theft along with unauthorized access to protected computer. The ex-high school teacher apologized on March 1, 2019, before being sentenced to prison for 34 months. Brannan added that he suffered from depression and anxiety, and thus became addicted to the pornography. "I let addiction take control of me and I deeply regret that," he said.

From 2013 to 2015, Brannan teach in Lee-Davis High School of Mechanicsville as special education teacher. As per the court documents, he also admitted to hacking or trying hacking accounts of students along with former and current teachers at the high school.

Jessica Aber, Assistant U.S. Attorney, told Henry Hudson, U.S. District Judge, that volume of the intrusions was enormous. She said that "it's truly an immense invasion of privacy".

Abraham Del Rio III, Brannan's lawyer, told Hudson that the ex-high school teacher coped with depression and anxiety by viewing the online pornography. Soon after hearing from Brannan's lawyer, Hudson told the ex-high school teacher he was still "a little bit perplexed" that why somebody having a good job and appear to be on the good and correct path in his life, hack someone else private accounts. "These are questions that I've spent a lot of time asking myself," Brannan said.

Under plea agreement, both Brannan's lawyer as well as the prosecutors recommended 34-month sentence. Christopher Brannan has been ordered to start serving his sentence from April 1.

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