Ohio Prisoners Build Computers from Spare Parts, Conceal them in Ceiling
A pair of prisoners at the Marion Correctional Institution in Ohio built two computers from spare parts obtained from PCs they were dismantling as part of a recycling program, then successfully connected them to the prison’s network. The scheme was exposed when IT staff noticed unusual Internet activity levels on an outside contractor’s account; investigators discovered a network cable leading into the ceiling of a training room closet, where the computers were hidden.
Forensic analysis of the computers’ data revealed pornography and articles about the manufacture of drugs and homemade weapons, identity theft and fraudulent credit card activity. The analysis also found the two prisoners, Adam C. Johnston and Scott Spriggs, had accessed the prison’s internal network, breached the records of fellow prisoners and created passes for other prisoners to use to access prohibited areas of the facility.
The incident occurred in July 2015 but only came to light with the April 11, 2017 release of a report critical of security at the prison. Inspector General Randall J. Meyer’s office said the prisoners who built and concealed the PCs were “unsupervised for extensive periods of time,” and that then-Warden Jason Bunting failed to report the suspected criminal activity. Meyer called on the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to determine if any employees should be disciplined, to ensure that all suspected crimes are reported to the appropriate authorities, and to tighten security over the prison system’s computers and WiFi networks.
Johnston’s mother, who reportedly assisted her son by providing a mailing address for fraudulent credit and debit cards, was investigated by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which raided her home. Prosecutors are considering criminal charges.
Sources: www.bbc.com, www.dispatch.com, www.mydaytondailynews.com