UPI Focus;NEWLN:'Gatsby' pleads guilty in hacker case

SAN DIEGO, Dec. 7 -- One of the ringleaders of a major computer hacking operation has pleaded guilty Tuesday in San Diego to two counts of computer fraud.

Jonathan Bosanac, 27, who dubbed himself$?'The Gatsby,' was one of three young men charged with masterminding what authorities called the largest computer hacking scheme in U.S. history. The ring allegedly stole thousands of calling-card numbers from telephone companies around the country.


He entered pleas on two counts involving fraud in connection with an illegally obtained access device (a telephone calling card), and fraud in connection with a protected computer.

Bosanac was living at his parents' 5,800-acre estate in the tony Rancho Santa Fe neighborhood, north of San Diego, in 1995 when FBI agents raided the residence and seized his computer.

The 12-member group Bosanac belonged to was called$?'The Phonemasters' by federal authorities. The members allegedly used their computer skills to break into the computer systems of AT&T, MCI, Sprint and other major telephone companies, then downloaded thousands of calling card numbers for alleged sales on the black marketfor $2 each.

They allegedly also carried out harassing pranks such as sending out one person's phone number to thousands of pagers, prompting a flood of return calls. They also forwarded an FBI phone number to a sex chat line, sticking the bureau with $200,000 in bills.


Defense attorney Peter Hughes said the case against The Phonemasters originated with the U.S. Attorney's office in Dallas. Bosanac was allowed to enter his plea in his hometown district rather than travel to Texas.

Hughes said Bosanac will be sentenced on March 2 and faces around 20 months in prison. The maximum sentence for the two counts would be 15 years, but Hughes said the plea and the age of the charges make it unlikely that Bosanac will get the maximum.

Hughes told United Press International that he would ask U.S. District Judge Irma E. Gonzalez to recommend that Bosanac be sent to a minimum-security prison camp. He said that there would be no restrictions on his client's access to computers while in custody.

The other two reputed ringleaders of the Phonemasters, Corey $?'Tabbas' Lindsley and Calvin$?'Zibby' Cantrell, were sentenced in September to 41 months and 24 months respectively.

Lindsley was a college student at the University of Pennsylvania while Cantrell worked for a Dallas-area private investigator.

Prosecutors said the trio apparently met on the Internet in the early 1990s and began working together on schemes to steal and sell calling card numbers, credit reports, and unlisted phone numbers.

The San Diego Union-Tribune said the FBI learned of the alleged operation from an informant in 1994 and launched an investigation that featured the bureau's first monitoring of computer data flowing over a telephone line.


Bosanac, who was not arrested at the time of the 1995 raid on his parents' home, was free Tuesday on $25,000 bond after surrendering in court, Hughes said.

Seven other defendants in the Phonemasters investigation have also already pleaded guilty to various federal charges.

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