After pleading guilty to attempting to pay a Tesla employee $500,000 to install computer malware at the firm’s Nevada electric battery facility in a bid to steal corporate secrets for ransom, a Russian man was sentenced Monday to time already served and will be deported from the United States.
Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov apologized from jail via videoconference after US District Judge Miranda Du in Reno confirmed the attempted hack was unsuccessful and the firm network was not breached.
“I apologize for my decision. “I regret it,” Kriuchkov, 27, said through a Russian-language court interpreter.
His court-appointed lawyer, Chris Frey, claimed Kriuchkov speaks good English, but the judge insisted on an interpreter.
Kriuchkov stated that his nine-month detention in the United States had prompted him to think about the hurt he has caused his family in Russia, as well as the harm to his image. Several family members emailed the judge, pleading for mercy.
“I understand it was a bad decision,” Kriuchkov, who faced up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, said.
The judge, who agreed not to mention the firm name in Court, agreed to prosecutors and Kriuchkov’s plea deal.
He was sentenced to 10 months in prison for his March guilty plea to conspiracy to intentionally cause harm to a protected computer; to pay about $14,825 in restitution for business time spent investigating the attempted breach and turning the case over to the FBI, and three years of federal supervision if he remains in the United States or returns from overseas. He will be imprisoned until he leaves the country.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk admitted following Kruichkov’s arrest in Los Angeles in August that the business had focused on what Musk described as a serious effort to obtain corporate secrets. According to federal investigators, Kriuchkov was on his way to an airport to fly out of the country.
Tesla has a big plant in Reno that manufactures batteries for electric automobiles as well as energy storage units. Messages seeking reaction from company executives were not returned immediately Monday.
The Court set Kriuchkov’s offer to the anonymous employee at $500,000. She did not answer prior rumors that the bribe was worth $1 million.
The employee was credited by federal investigators with reporting Kriuchkov’s advances to corporate leaders.
The hack was intended to be a distributed denial-of-service operation, flooding the Tesla computer system with garbage data. At the same time, a second infiltration would allow co-conspirators to take data from the corporate network and demand ransom with the threat of making the information public.
More accused co-conspirators are identified in court documents by aliases, and at least one other failed attempt to attack another undisclosed organization is mentioned.
In September, Kriuchkov told a court that he knew the Russian government was aware of his case, but prosecutors and the FBI never accused him of having links to the Kremlin.
“There is no doubt the offense is serious,” Du added, expressing worries about “these types of cyber-ransom offenses” in the United States and elsewhere. “Fortunately, the scheme did not work.”