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Lawyer Questions ‘Melissa’ Charges

April 7, 1999

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ The lawyer for the man accused of creating the Melissa computer virus said he questions whether there was a crime.

``The Melissa virus does not corrupt any file, does not erase any files, does not delete any files,″ Edward F. Borden Jr. said Tuesday. ``All it does is forward a relatively innocuous message to 50 other people.″

Borden wouldn’t say whether his client, David Smith, was responsible for creating the virus. Smith’s previous lawyer, Steven Altman, said over the weekend that Smith never intended to do anything wrong.

Smith, 30, was arrested last week and charged with originating the virus, which came disguised as an e-mail marked ``important message″ from a friend or colleague. It caused affected computers to fire off 50 more infected messages and slowed some systems to a crawl.

Smith, who is scheduled to appear in court Thursday, is charged with interruption of public communications, conspiracy and theft of computer service. He could face up to 40 years in prison.

He is free on $100,000 bail.

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