SCOTUS upholds Musacchio’s convictions for hacking former employer

Dan McCue reports on the Musacchio case:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday affirmed the felony convictions of a former executive with a technology firm who unlawfully hacked his employer’s computers to steal information he then used to start his own company.

Michael Musacchio, the former president of Exel Transportation Services, was convicted in May 2013 of one felony county of conspiracy to make unauthorized access to a protected computer and two felony counts of hacking.

At trial, prosecutors had said that Musacchio, with the aid of two other former Exel employees, hacked into Exel’s computer system and raided its email accounts to steal confidential and proprietary business information from 2004 through 2006.

On appeal, Mussachio raised two issues before the Supreme Court: one issue was the erroneous instructions given to the jury, and the second, was that the statute of limitations barred the prosecution.

As Mc Cue reports, SCOTUS was unanimous in its decision that the Fifth Circuit had correctly rejected Musacchio’s sufficiency challenge:

On the first issue, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that, “when a jury instruction sets forth all the elements of the charged crime but incorrectly adds one more element, a sufficiency challenge should be assessed against the elements of the charged crime, not against the erroneously heightened command in the jury instruction.”

“The Government’s failure to introduce evidence of an additional element does not implicate the principles that sufficiency review protects. All that a defendant is entitled to on a sufficiency challenge is for the court to make a ‘legal’ determination whether the evidence was strong enough to reach a jury at all,” Thomas wrote.

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