Cyberhacker Sébastien Vachon-Desjardins sentenced to 20 years in prison in Florida
This former Canadian civil servant who has already pleaded guilty to various charges of using ransomware was called by the judge “Jesse James of the 21st century”.
Sébastien Vachon-Desjardins was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
TAMPA – The American justice has not been kind to the hacker Sébastien Vachon-Desjardins. Calling him “Jesse James of the 21st century”, Florida judge William Jung sent him behind bars for 20 years.
It was looking sheepish and dressed in an orange prisoner jumpsuit that Sébastien Vachon-Desjardins entered the federal court room in Tampa. The judge began his sentencing by saying: You have one of the best lawyers in the state of Florida, but frankly, this is one of the worst cases of my career. He went on to call his crimes violent, horrific and hugely rewarding.
In June, the 35-year-old Gatineau resident pleaded guilty to charges related to ransomware attacks. Vachon-Desjardins had been recruited by a group of Russian-speaking hackers called NetWalker. This criminal organization has claimed more than 400 victims in 30 countries and extorted more than 40 million US dollars. According to the FBI, the young Gatineau resident was one of the most prolific members of this group of pirates.
This is an astonishing criminal journey for this Quebecer who worked at the same time as a computer technician for the federal government, at Public Services and Procurement Canada.
During his arrest in January 2021 in Gatineau, the police seized hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and the equivalent of 28 million US dollars in bitcoins. He amassed this colossal sum in 10 months, between spring 2020 and January 2021. The cyberattacks committed by Sébastien Vachon-Desjardins in Canada have already earned him a seven-year prison sentence by an Ontario court.
His lawyer tried to appease Judge Jung by arguing that his client felt sincere regret, that he had consented to his extradition and that he had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.
The judge, visibly outraged by the crimes of the young Gatineau resident, declared that if Sébastien Vachon-Desjardins had chosen to defend himself in a trial rather than plead guilty, he would have sentenced him to life in prison or 40 years.< /p>
William Jung said that the United States wants to send a message of deterrence to hackers everywhere and make them understand that American justice will go to stop them where they are. Sébastien Vachon-Desjardins is the only hacker from the NetWalker group to have been arrested to date and, according to his lawyer, he has not provided any information that would identify accomplices.
The attorney for the Department of Justice presented the judge with the findings of the pre-sentence report which showed a normal childhood, good parents, a good job, no financial difficulties or any drug addiction problem.
The court will summon Sébastien Vachon-Desjardins again in January to discuss the distribution of the millions seized among the victims. The story of the Gatineau pirate will be featured on the show Enquête next Thursday, October 13.