Web designers face prison after trashing client's site

Executives from a consulting company are facing prison after pleading guilty to wiping a client's website following a contract dispute.

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Executives from a Seattle-area consulting company are facing prison time after pleading guilty to wiping a client's website following a contract dispute.

Minecode had built the online gift shop for US wine retailer Vinado, but things soured in late 2006, according to a statement released by the US Department of Justice. In December, Minecode chief executive Pradyumna Samal ordered Sandeep Verma, a project manager with the company, to disable the website's gift shop.

The next month Samal "caused commands to be transmitted to Vinado's website that resulted in the deletion of Vinado's website, email server and database in its entirety," the DoJ said.

Samal and Minecode pleaded guilty to two misdemeanour counts of computer intrusion. The project manager, Verma, has pleaded guilty to one count of the same charge. The two men face up to a year in prison on each count and fines of up to $100,000. They are set to be sentenced on April 8.

The company has agreed to pay $120,000 for damages associated with the incident, and Minecode could be fined another $240,000, the DoJ said.

"Computer intrusion is a serious crime," the DoJ said. "Whether it is a hacker seeking to harm our citizens, or misguided businessmen using technology to escalate a dispute, these crimes will be investigated and prosecuted."

Founded in 2001 by former Microsoft Program Manager Samal, Minecode has a staff of more than 500, according to the company's website. Samal did not immediately return a call seeking comment for this story.

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