After being let go by a company where he worked as a radio frequency technician, 42-year-old Adam Flanagan of Bala Cynwyd, decided to hack into water meters of municipal utility systems all along the East Coast in order to mess with data used by his former employer.
It was a decision that will cost him a year and a day in prison, after he was sentenced Thursday, on two counts of unauthorized access to a protected computer and thereby recklessly causing damage.
According to the office of Acting United States Attorney Louis D. Lappen, Flanagan was arrested without incident on Nov. 23 and he pleaded guilty to the crimes on March 7.
Law enforcement officials said that Flanagan’s crimes began after he lost his job as a radio frequency engineer for a company that made remote meter readers for utility systems.
These readers – installed at municipalities throughout the East Coast of the United States – work by receiving radio signals from individual meters and then process the data for billing, Lappen’s office detailed in a statement.
After his termination, law enforcement officials said that Flanagan used his knowledge of how these readers operate to gain access to them through the Internet and to disable them, which created incorrect billing data and caused his former employer “a large amount of time” to investigate the problem.
Because he had tampered with municipal water systems and interfered with computers used to maintain those systems – considered critical infrastructure by law – Flanagan was sentenced under enhanced sentencing guidelines.