Appearing before a San Jose court in California on Thursday, 11 members of what has become known as the PayPal 14 pleaded guilty to one felony charge and one misdemeanour charge under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, but will likely avoid a prison sentence following a deal hammered out with the US Department of Justice ahead of time.
The group were arrested in 2011 and charged with taking part in a cyber-attack against PayPal in 2010.
According to reporter Alexa O’Brien, the 11 men and women who pleaded guilty to both counts had their sentencing set back to December 2014, when the court will likely strike out all felony charges – but only if they don’t renounce their pleas and stay out of trouble in the meantime.
The felony charge is normally punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Two of the 14 pleaded guilty to only the lesser misdemeanor charge and will therefore serve 90 days in prison when they return to court next December – though the judge does have the option to not impose this sentence.
The final member of the PayPal 14 had their case handled separately
The Daily Beast reports that Stanley Cohen, counsel to one of the defendants, said, “The PayPal 14 are like civil rights fighters or the freedom riders of the 1960s. They are saying, ‘I did what I did with open eyes, knowing that I could get prosecuted. It happened. I knew what the consequences were, and the consequences came. I stand behind what I did. I did not cooperate with the government, and I did not roll over. I did this so that others could understand how corporations control the dialogue and the debate.