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Court papers: Smith admits to creating Melissa virus

The New Jersey man charged with creating the Melissa virus, which disrupted computers around the world, admitted to investigators that he did it, according to court papers.

The New Jersey man charged with creating the Melissa virus, which disrupted computers around the world, admitted to investigators that he did it, according to court papers.

On April 1, David L. Smith was arrested by federal and state officials and charged with creating and disseminating the Melissa virus that began spreading across the Internet March 26.

Smith, 30, a resident of Aberdeen Township, New Jersey, was arrested at the home of his brother in Eatontown, New Jersey. Smith was tracked down with the help of America Online and by traced phone calls.

A spokesman for the New Jersey Attorney General's office told CNET's News.com that the prosecution "expects to see some kind of resolution by September." He would not elaborate further.

A brief filed in state superior court by supervising deputy attorney general Christopher G. Bubb said Smith waived his Miranda rights and spoke to investigators when police arrived at his apartment, according to a courthouse spokesperson.

Smith admitted to writing the "Melissa" macro virus, illegally accessing America Online for the purpose of posting the virus onto the Internet, and destroying the personal computer he used to post the virus, Bubb stated.

The state attorney filed his brief in response to a motion made by Smith?s attorney Edward F. Borden Jr. seeking certain prosecution documents.

The FBI continues to provide assistance to New Jersey prosocuters in the case. Federal charges have not been levied against Smith. "The decision to bring federal charges against Smith is at the descretion of the U.S. Attorney," said FBI spokesperson Debbie Weierman.

In April, Smith pleaded not guilty to charges of interrupting public communication, conspiracy to commit the offense, and the attempt to commit the offense. He also pleaded not guilty to charges of two lesser offenses: theft of computer service and wrongful access to computer systems.

If convicted on the state charges, Smith faces a maximum of 40 years in prison and fines of $480,000.

AOL tipped the New Jersey attorney general's office to the virus's originator. AOL said it had tracked the source through a listserver to Monmouth County, New Jersey.

Since his arrest, Smith has changed attorneys.

The Melissa virus was first introduced on an "alt.sex" newsgroup using the AOL account of Scott Steinmetz, whose username was "skyroket." Steinmetz, a civil engineer in Lynnwood, Washington, told CNET News.com that he had nothing to do with writing or introducing the virus.

The virus used a combination of Microsoft's Outlook and Word programs to spread, taking advantage of users' email address book entries to gain the appearance of coming from a known person.

Smith remains free on $100,000 bail.