In return for his cooperation in the investigation of a denial of service attack launched during the 2006 Michigan Student Assembly presidential election, prosecutors dropped two charges against Engineering senior Joel Schweitzer yesterday.

Schweitzer pled guilty to attempted telephone tapping instead, a felony that carries penalties of up to two years in prison and a $1,000 fine. The state law that prohibits telephone tapping also prohibits the obstruction of communications on the Internet.

Schweitzer was facing one felony count of use of a computer to commit a crime – which carries up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine – and a high court misdemeanor of interfering with an electronic device, which has a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $1,000 fine.

MSA Rep. Anton Vuljaj is facing the same two charges.

The deal requires Schweitzer to provide testimony throughout the investigation and in possible upcoming court hearings. At Schweitzer’s preliminary examination yesterday in Washtenaw County Court, prosecutor Anthony Kendrick mentioned that the deal was contingent on Schweitzer testifying at Vuljaj’s preliminary examination next week.

Although Schweitzer’s sentencing is Jan. 9, the agreement provided that he would most likely receive probation and the charge would be stricken from his record once the probation ends.

In court yesterday, Kendrick asked Schweitzer about his role in the March 2006 attacks. Schweitzer said he gave Vuljaj a program that could be used to crash a website by repeatedly downloading a single file and overloading the server.

“I provided the software to an individual knowing what he would do with it,” he said. Kendrick then asked Schweitzer to name the individual. Schweitzer named Vuljaj.

Schweitzer said Vuljaj told him he was going to use the software for a denial of service attack on a website. Schweitzer said he wasn’t present when the attack was launched.

Kendrick then asked Schweitzer to explain why his computer’s IP address had been used for one of the attacks. But before Schweitzer could respond, his attorney, Jeffrey Collins, cut him off. Collins said there would be a private meeting held after the hearing to discuss the details of Schweitzer’s account, and Schweitzer didn’t need to answer any further questions. Collins’s objection was upheld.

The charges against both Vuljaj and Schweitzer came from the March 2006 student government elections when a denial of service attack crashed the Michigan Progressive Party’s website during the election period. Vuljaj was a member of rival party Students 4 Michigan. S4M narrowly beat MPP in almost all races.

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