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Men sentenced in naked-photo plot against pro poker players

April 22, 2013|By Richard Winton

Two Silicon Valley men were sentenced Monday for a "sextortion" plot in which they tried to extort professional poker players with threats of publicizing naked photographs and other private information stolen from email accounts.

Tyler Schrier, 23, of Menlo Park was sentenced to 42 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy, extortion and unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information. As part of the plea, Schrier admitted he also extorted $26,000 from professional poker players in another plot. While free on bond after being charged in the case, he illegally accessed two email accounts that allowed him to steal about $4,000 from online poker accounts, according to the federal court records.

Keith James Hudson, 39, of San Jose received a two-year prison term after pleading guilty to hacking into a poker player’s email account, stealing naked photographs and plotting with Schrier to extort poker players, prosecutors said.

The scheme unfolded in the fall of 2010, after the accused illegally accessed an email account belonging to Joe Sebok. Armed with intimate emails and photographs, Schrier threatened to post them on the Internet unless Sebok and other victims paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in extortion payments, prosecutors said.

Sebok and the other victims in this case did not make any payments.

In November 2010, Schrier sent an email with a nude photograph of Sebok to approximately 100 individuals, prosecutors said. Before U.S. District Court Judge James Otero sentenced the Schrier and Hudson, Sebok addressed the court and said the victims of the plot had “their lives altered and shattered in irreparable ways.”

After the defendants hacked into his email account and publicized his information, the fallout “instantly damaged my ability to sustain my livelihood doing what I had been since 2005.”

Sebok told Otero, “In short, I was no longer able to maintain my then-current level of participation in the poker industry, representing the brands that I had been previously, as well as greatly destroying my ability to do so with new companies moving forward. Without belaboring the point too much, it was a nightmare, and one that I was forced to live through with millions of people watching.”

Ryder Finney, 22, of Philadelphia, a third defendant in the case, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and will be sentenced later this year in federal court in Philadelphia. At sentencing, Finney faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison.

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Twitter: @lacrimes| Google+

richard.winton@latimes.com

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