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MySpace hackers cop plea, extortion charges dropped

Two men accused of trying to extort $150,000 from site dodge major jail time, plead no contest to unlawful access of computer data.

Two men accused of trying to extort $150,000 from social-networking site have each pleaded no contest to one count of unlawful access of computer data, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office.

Saverio Mondelli, 19, and Shaun Harrison, 18, natives of Suffolk County, N.Y., each entered their plea Monday before Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Kristi Lousteau.

The remaining three charges of extortion, attempted extortion and a second count related to unlawful computer access, which together could have led to up to four years in prison for each man, were dropped by the district attorney's office.

As part of the plea, each man will instead serve nine days in county jail, three years probation and 160 hours of community service, according to Jane Robison, press secretary for the district attorney's office.

The men are also jointly responsible for a total restitution of $13,500 to .

"Yes, you could say they were teens, but they were both over 18. In terms of the court, they were considered adults and filed as adults," Robison said.

Mondelli and Harrison discovered a flaw that allowed them to track the personal information of MySpace users. After MySpace noticed and blocked the weakness, the hackers informed the social-networking site that they would deploy a new exploit code unless the company paid them $150,000.

MySpace, which is owned by News Corp.'s Fox Interactive Media, called the police, and a sting operation was set up with undercover agents from the U.S. Secret Service and the district attorney's Bureau of Investigation. The two MySpace hackers were arrested upon meeting with the undercover agents, whom they had assumed were MySpace employees ready to hand over a payment.