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Bogus Computer Expert Goes From Witness To Federal Prisoner

The courtroom star witness pleaded guilty to faking his credentials, possibly putting several cases in question.
A so-called computer forensics expert who has served as an expert trial witness has pleaded guilty in federal court to falsifying his credentials.

James Earl Edmiston, 36, of Long Beach, Calif., pleaded guilty before a U.S. District judge in Fresno, Calif., to two counts of perjury. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $500,000.

Edmiston admitted in a plea agreement that he had been retained by two Fresno-based criminal defense attorneys to provide computer forensic analysis in several child exploitation prosecutions. As part of his work on those cases, Edmiston prepared and executed several declarations under penalty of perjury between April 3, 2006, and July 19, 2006, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

In the declarations, he stated that he had been a computer consultant for 12 years, had a master's degree in computer engineering from the California Institute of Technology, and had been qualified as an expert witness in computers and their online usage by numerous state and federal courts throughout California.

However, the government reported that an investigation revealed that Edmiston did not have degrees from the California Institute of Technology, the University of California at Los Angeles, or the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, as he alleged. Court documents also showed that he concealed a prior criminal record that includes a prison term that he served in the mid-1990s as a result of forgery convictions in a California Superior Court.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheila Oberto, who works in the Eastern District of California, said in an interview with InformationWeek that Edmiston was involved in at least two federal cases in the Eastern District of California alone. Edmiston's falsifications could call those cases into question now.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 13.