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Defense Hammers At Investigator In UBS Computer Sabotage Trial

As the trial continues for an ex-UBS systems administrator charged with sabotaging the company's networks, the defense attorney called into question the investigator's evidence and means of collecting it, as well as information and people who weren't investigated.

Newark, N.J. - The defense in the UBS PaineWebber computer sabotage trial here continued its assault on the investigating agent on the stand Wednesday, calling into question not only the evidence the feds collected, but the methods they used to collect it, and the information and people they did not investigate.

Special Agent Gregory O'Neil of the U.S. Secret Service was hammered by defense attorney Chris Adams for the second day in a row, in questioning that several times became heated and contentious. Counsel repeatedly asked O'Neil about the circumstances surrounding agents finding a hard copy of malicious code in the defendant's bedroom, why mirror images of the defendant's computers were made at Secret Service offices instead of in the man's home, and about two other systems administrators who were questioned but never part of the criminal investigation.

Roger Duronio, 63, of Bogota, N.J., is facing four charges in connection with allegedly writing and planting malicious code on the Unix-based network at UBS PaineWebber, where he had been working as a systems administrator for three years. The attack effectively took down about 2,000 of the company's servers, some of which were brought back up in a day, but others remained down for two to three weeks. UBS has reported that the cleanup alone cost the company $3.1 million. The company has not revealed the price of lost business.

Duronio, in his third week of trial, is facing four federal charges in U.S. District Court here. If convicted, he's looking at a maximum sentence of 30 years, fines of up to $1 million and restitution for what UBS spent on recovery.

During his first two days on the stand, O'Neil, who was the lead case agent in the investigation, testified that during the execution of a search warrant on the Duronio home a few weeks after the March 4, 2002 security incident, Secret Service agents found parts of the malicious code on two of his home computers, as well as printed out in a hard copy that was found on his bedroom dresser.

On O'Neil's third day as a witness and his second in front of defense cross-examination, Adams on Wednesday badgered the agent about the way Duronio's computers were handled during the search, why mirror images of their hard drives weren't made in the man's home and why federal agents immediately called attention to the printout of the malicious code found in the bedroom when other programming code was found elsewhere in the house.

"It wasn't until after the analysis in your offices that you found the computer code?" asked Adams, referring to the trigger mechanism of the code that was found on the hard drives. "That's right," O'Neil responded.

Adams added, "You didn't find the document in the computer in the state [the computer originally] was in, did you?" Answering a similar question from the prosecution, O'Neil said, "I did nothing to alter the hard drives. No attempt to alter the records was made."

O'Neil explained agents took the computers back to the Secret Service field office before making the images because they had six hard drives from the house to handle, they wanted to get out of the Duronios' home before it was too late at night and they didn't know how long it would take.

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