Wilkes-Barre Sentenced To Probation For Computer Hacking

December 14, 2018

SCRANTON — A Wilkes-Barre man featured in the “Kids for Cash” documentary was sentenced today to three years probation for illegally hacking into a computer.

Justin Bodnar,29, pleaded guilty in August to a federal charge of illegally accessing a protected computer.

Federal sentencing guidelines called for a sentence of four to 10 months in prison. Senior U.S. District Judge James Munley opted for the probation, citing Bodnar’s extensive efforts to rehabilitate himself in the years since his arrest.

Bodnar is now a student at Wilkes University and is set to graduate in the spring with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and math. 

“I’m overcome by how well you did,” Munley said shortly after he imposed the sentence. “I’m sure you are going to be successful and are on the right road now.”

Bodnar was charged in 2016 with hacking into the computer of former Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton in 2013 and attempting to sell emails he accessed. He was also charged with hacking into the computers of a former employer in 2012 and damaging the machines. Prosecutors dropped one of the charges in exchange for his plea.

Bodnar was among several juveniles whose cases were spotlighted in the 2014 documentary “Kids for Cash,” which examined excessive sentences handed down to juveniles by former Luzerne County judges Mark Ciavarella.

Ciavarella and former judge Michael Conahan were convicted in 2011 of shipping children to for-profit juvenile detention centers in exchange for $2.8 million in kickbacks from Robert J. Powell, a former Drums-based lawyer, and from the builder of the centers.

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