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Computer programmer admits role in Kansas cyberattack threat

(WJRT)
Published: Oct. 10, 2019 at 3:40 PM CDT
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October 21, 2019

Prosecutors say a computer software engineer has admitted threatening cyberattacks against websites that criticized a Wichita attorney's work.

VIRAL Artificial Intelligence co-founder David Dorsett pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of making extortionate threats via the internet. The 37-year-old Wichita man admitted in his plea he contacted lawyer Brad Pistotnik in 2014 offering "reputation management services."

The U.S. attorney's office said in a news release that Pistotnik wanted negative postings removed, including a Kansas Supreme Court disciplinary opinion.

Dorsett sent an email barrage to Leagle.com and Ripoffreport.com demanding they remove the information and threatening to target advertisers.

Prosecutors say Dorsett billed Pistotnik for sending the threats and Pistotnik paid him the same day.

Pistotnik was sentenced to pay a $375,000 fine and $55,200 in restitution. Dorsett's sentencing is Jan. 6.

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October 10, 2019

A computer software engineer accused of plotting cyberattacks on websites criticizing a Wichita attorney's work has notified the court he plans to change his plea.

A docket notation on Wednesday in U.S. District Court says VIRAL Artificial Intelligence co-founder David Dorsett is set for a change-of-plea hearing on Oct. 21 in Wichita.

Dorsett and Wichita lawyer Bradley Pistotnik pleaded not guilty last year to federal charges of computer fraud and conspiracy. Pistotnik is also charged with making false statements to the FBI.

The indictment alleges that Pistotnik and Dorsett are responsible for cyberattacks on Leagle.com, Ripoffreport.com and JaburgWilk.com in 2014 and 2015. The indictment also accuses Dorsett of filling website inboxes with threats. Court records say one email demands that a webpage be removed or the hackers will target advertisers.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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