The Romanian hacker known as Guccifer was sentenced to 52 months in federal prison Thursday by a U.S. court in Alexandria, Virginia.
Marcel Lehel Lazar, 44, of Arad, Romania pled guilty in May to to hacking the personal email and social media accounts of more than 100 Americans, according to the Justice Department, including the sister of former President George W. Bush and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Lazar is a “prestige” hacker — someone who appears to have acted out of a desire for publicity and approbation.
After hacking the America Online account of former President Bush’s sister Dorothy Bush Koch and other close friends of the Bush family like CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz, he posted emails and personal photographs — including of a self-portrait oil painting by the former president — online, and happily corresponding with reporters and others about what he had done.
Later, publicly posted emails from the account of Sidney Blumenthal to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were the first public indication that she was using her now-notorious private email server.
Lazar later told reporters while he was in U.S. custody that he hacked Clinton’s email account, too, but there’s never been any evidence of that.
A taxi driver with a high school education, Lazar had no formal computer training and little hacking expertise. He told the New York Times that he obtained access to his high-profile victims’ personal email and social-media accounts by reading their Wikipedia pages and guessing or resetting their passwords based on the personal information needed to answer security questions.
Lazar has said that his pseudonym Guccifer is a combination of “Gucci” and “Lucifer” — “the style of Gucci and the light of Lucifer.”
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Lazar would be returned to his homeland to serve out a prior sentence there for hacking Romanian politicians, but would come back to the United States, likely in 2018, to do his federal time.
Neither the case, nor Lazar, has any connection to Guccifer 2.0, the party responsible for posting stolen documents from the Democratic National Committee online — and who is widely viewed as a front or cut-out for Russian intelligence.