Wednesday, November 22, 2006
California punishes hero, leaves criminal on the streets
A Van Nuys actor who became a hero to electronic-voting critics and digital-rights activists pleaded guilty this week to a felony computer crime, paid $10,000 restitution to lawyers for Diebold Election Systems and tried going back to his quiet life.Stephen Heller, 44, was sentenced to probation for three years. He had to write an apology to Diebold and its attorneys at the Los Angeles office of the law firm Jones Day, saying there was "no excuse" for sending confidential Diebold legal memos to state elections officials and media.Those memos, excerpted in both print and online editions of the Oakland Tribune, showed that Diebold executives violated state election laws by fielding unapproved voting software in Alameda County and elsewhere in driving for sales in California, the nation's largest voting systems market. Despite being warned of those violations, Diebold still pushed to use hastily assembled voting hardware that, in turn, broke down in the March®MDBO¯ 2004 primary.Soon after, state elections officials decertified Diebold's touch screen voting systems statewide.
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