A Seattle man who federal authorities say was was sentenced to just under eight years in prison on Friday.
According to a news release from the U.S. District Attorney's Office, Joshua Witt, 35, was one of three thieves who targeted more than 50 local businesses between 2008 and 2010. Witt pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree burglary in January and conspiracy in April.
As we , prosecutors say Witt and his accomplices stole servers, computers and electronics equipment from businesses in Bellevue, Woodinville, Redmond, Kirkland and Renton.
Among the businesses hit in Bellevue:
•, BizXchange, Blinkx and , all located in the same Eastgate building at 3600 136th Place S.E., June 13-14. All had computer equipment stolen; BizXchange also had gift cards for various businesses stolen.
•Intava Corp. and Mind Tree, both in the same building at 2375 130th Ave. N.E., Dec. 3-5.
Gift cards stolen from Bellevue’s BizXchange connect the Eastside burglaries to a federal investigation into sophisticated computer hacking, identity theft and fraud.
Federal authorities say the men hacked the businesses' networks and stole their equipment to obtain credit card information, which they used to purchase and then sell tens of thousands of dollars in high-tech equipment and luxury goods. According to the news release:
The men outfitted at least one vehicle with high tech equipment, including extensive antennas, allowing them to search for wireless networks they could use both for hacking or to hide their ‘digital fingerprints’ when they accessed a company network. The steps they took to hide their identities led to innocent third parties or company employees being suspected and interviewed by law enforcement.
Fellow defendants John Earl Griffin and Brad Eugene Lowe were sentenced to eight and six-and-a-half years in prison, respectively, earlier this year. A judge will decide next month what the three men owe in restitution; the figure is expected to exceed $3 million.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force using officers and agents from the Seattle Police Department, the King County Sheriff’s Department, Kirkland Police Department, Bellevue Police Department and Lynnwood Police Department. Assistance was also provided by the Redmond, Renton, Woodinville and Bothell police departments.