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Hacker of Apple iPad-AT&T site reportedly in plea talks

Judge puts Andrew Auernheimer's case on hold, saying plea talks are under way in hacking case.

Josh Lowensohn/CNET

A hacker accused of breaking into an AT&T Web site and stealing data of iPad users is negotiating a plea agreement a month after an alleged co-conspirator pleaded guilty, Reuters reported today.

Andrew Auernheimer was indicted three weeks ago by a Newark, N.J., grand jury on one count of conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to computers and one count of identity theft. Auernheimer, who lives in Fayetteville, Ark., is free on bail.

U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton put Auernheimer's case on hold yesterday, saying "plea negotiations are currently in progress and both the United States and the defendant desire additional time to finalize a plea agreement, which would render trial of this matter unnecessary."

Co-defendant Daniel Spitler pleaded guilty on June 23 to the same charges and faces up to 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.

Spitler wrote a script called the "iPad 3G Account Slurper" and used it against AT&T servers a year ago to harvest e-mail addresses and associated unique iPad numbers, and plotted with Auernheimer on how to take advantage of the security hole, according to the U.S. Department of Justice office in Newark, New Jersey.

In an interview with CNET last year, Auernheimer admitted that the hackers had compromised the AT&T 3G iPad customer Web site and released data on 120,000 accounts but said they did so with the intention of warning AT&T and protecting consumers.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman declined to comment to Reuters.