ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A Romanian hacker who targeted the Bush family, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and others was sentenced to more than four years in prison Thursday, but will be sent to Romania to serve time on a prison sentence there first.
Marcel Lazar, 44, of Arad, Romania is better known by the nickname Guccifer. In 2012 and 2013, he went on a hacking spree that enveloped roughly 100 victims, from private citizens to former presidents.
He hacked the email account of Dorothy Bush Koch, daughter of President George H.W. Bush and sister of President George W. Bush. As a result of the hack, the website The Smoking Gun published private family photos and pictures of paintings by George W. Bush.
Lazar hacked Powell's Facebook account and sent out posts under Powell's name stating "You will burn in hell, Bush!" and "Kill the illuminati!"
Guccifer also hacked an email account of Sidney Blumenthal, a confidant of Hillary Clinton, in March 2013. That subsequent leak of Blumenthal's emails was the first time that outsiders became aware of Clinton's private "clintonemail.com" address, which she used to communicate with Blumenthal. It became part of the investigation of whether Clinton mishandled sensitive emails.
After his arrest, Lazar also told reporters he hacked into Clinton's private email server, but prosecutors and FBI Director James Comey have said he was lying.
All the while, prosecutors said, Lazar showed no remorse for his crimes, though they acknowledge he has cooperated with authorities in interviews.
"He characterized his criminal conduct as an achievement," prosecutor Maya Song said at Thursday's sentencing hearing.
Lazar himself declined an opportunity to speak on his behalf before Thursday's sentence was imposed, and walked out casually after his hearing concluded.
The 52-month sentence imposed by U.S. Senior Judge James Cacheris matched prosecutors' request. His court-appointed public defender had requested a 3-year term.
Lazar will soon be sent to Romania to finish a prison term imposed there on similar charges of hacking accounts of Romanian officials. Lazar was indicted in the U.S. in 2014, and in March of this year Romania agreed to send Lazar to the U.S for prosecution on the condition he be returned upon request to serve his time in Romania.
Officials said Romania has requested his return, so Lazar will be sent to Romania to serve time on what amounts to a 7-year sentence there, although there is some indication he could be eligible for some type of parole in 2018. After he serves his time in Romania, he would be brought back to the U.S. to serve his sentence, and then again deported back to Romania.
"I do believe there is uncertainty as to how all this will play out," said Lazar's public defender, Shannon Quill.
Lazar did not profit financially from his hacking. In court papers, Quill said Lazar was "not motivated by financial gain but principally by a desire to bring to light actions of public officials and those in power in order to expose what he saw as hypocrisy, especially in those connected to the defense and intelligence sectors."
Sentencing papers show Lazar was obsessed with numerology and secret societies, and that he believed Powell and others were members of the Illuminati. He only picked his nickname, a combination of the Gucci brand and Lucifer, after he felt comfortable that the numerology associated with the name was acceptable.