Former Fort Collins resident sentenced for 2010 denial of service attack on Larimer County government computers

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David Joseph Rezendes, aka Joseph David Rezendes, aka Joe Rezendes, age 27, was sentenced June 4 to serve 18 months in federal prison for intentionally damaging a protected computer and for possession of unauthorized access devices (credit card information), United States Attorney John Walsh, FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Thomas Ravenelle and Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith announced. Rezendes was responsible for a denial of service attack he implemented to retaliate against the Larimer County government. After serving his sentence, Judge Jackson ordered Rezendes to spend 3 years on supervised release. Rezendes, who appeared at the hearing in custody, was remanded.

Rezendes was indicted by a federal grand jury on August 27, 2012. He pled guilty on March 8, 2013. He was sentenced on June 4. A hearing has been scheduled for July 23, 2013 for the court to set the amount of restitution Rezendes must pay to Larimer County.

According to court records, starting on September 22, 2010, a debilitating denial of service attack was launched against Larimer County government’s computer network. A denial of service attack makes a computer resource, such as a network or processor, unavailable to its intended users. A common denial of service attack involves a computer or computer network saturating a targeted victim computer system or network, overwhelming that system or network with traffic or communications requests. The attack lasted until September 24, 2010. A second attack occurred between October 4, 2010 and October 6, 2010. The denial of service attacks affected Larimer County employees’ ability to access email and county records. Two departments’ telephone systems were affected, as was the public’s ability to access county services online.

The Larimer County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI investigated the attack. As part of their investigation, law enforcement executed a court authorized search warrant of Rezendes’ residence. Computers and computer components were seized during the search. FBI case agents and Larimer County Sheriff’s Department computer forensic experts performed an analysis examining the data on the computers, uncovering evidence that the defendant was in fact responsible for the denial of service attack. They also uncovered evidence that Rezendes possessed stolen credit card information for more than 100 individuals.

As a consequence of his earlier guilty pleas, Rezendes is subject to a criminal asset forfeiture, which states that upon conviction of the violations stated in the guilty plea, the defendant shall forfeit to the United States any and all of the defendant’s right, title and interest in all property constituting and derived from any proceeds obtained directly and indirectly as a result of such offense, or property used to commit the offense, to include computers and computer components. In this case the defendant had to forfeit: 3 desktop computers, 3 laptop computers, 9 computer hard drives, 2 routers, 3 cable modems, a 32GB SDHC card, a USB thumb drive, a Camcorder, a WiFi Network Adapter, an omni-directional antenna, and a magnetic stripe card reader/writer.

“Rezendes attacked the Larimer County computer system because he was angry about a traffic ticket,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “His denial of service attack impacted thousands of people for several days. Thanks to the excellent work of the Larimer County Sheriff and the FBI, Rezendes will spend 18 months in prison.”

“In this case, a personal vendetta against a government agency turned into a criminal act,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Thomas Ravenelle. “Regardless of motivation, the FBI is committed to tracking down cybercriminals who launch such malicious, targeted attacks.”
“The computer attack in this case had a significant impact on Larimer County both operationally and financially,” said Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith. “Cyber-crimes of this nature underscore the importance of cooperation between local and federal officials and the need for their expertise and assistance.”

This case was investigated by the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The defendant was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ryan Bergsieker.