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Justin Tanner Petersen: Wikis

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Justin Tanner Peterson is a former concert promoter, sound engineer and private investigator[1]. He also turned FBI informant to help catching other hackers, including a fugitive most wanted by the FBI. While working with the FBI, he continued to commit serious crimes.

Criminal history

Justin Petersen, born 1960 in Washington D.C. started computer hacking in 1978. Justin was found deceased in his apartment on 3/12/2010 from a presumed drug overdose, although autopsy results are not yet in. Exact time of death is as yet unknown. In 1989, Petersen, aka Agent Steal, aka Eric Hienz, hacked into the computers of Pacific Bell Telephone in California to intercept the telephone lines to several local FM radio stations. He and other associates had hacked in to a Pac Bell Computer system that could seize the telephone lines to ensure that they were the only callers who can win contests. The winnings include $50,000 cash, several trips to Hawaii and two Porsches. Realizing he was being pursued by the FBI after a high speed chase, he moved to Texas, hacked into a national credit reporting agency, ordered fraudulent credit cards, and spent freely.

After a tip from former associates, Petersen was arrested in Texas in 1991, where he lived briefly. An FBI affidavit reveals fear that Petersen could have been eavesdropping on law enforcement investigations. The affidavit says Petersen admitted "conducting illegal telephone taps" and breaking into Pacific Bell's COSMOS and other computer systems, which allows the user to check telephone numbers and determine the location of telephone lines and circuits.His break ins were both physical and digital. [2]

A grand jury in Texas returned an eight-count indictment against Petersen, accusing him of assuming false names, accessing a computer without authorization, possessing stolen account IDs and fraudulently obtaining and using credit cards. The case was later transferred to California and sealed, out of concern for Petersen's safety, authorities said. The motion to seal states that Petersen, "acting in an undercover capacity, currently is cooperating with the United States in the investigation of other persons in California." Petersen worked for the FBI for almost two years.

Petersen was also faced with several other charges regarding national security, one charge was regarding his supposed compilation of U.S. Federal Government wire taps of persons currently under survailence. Under his plea agreement the charge was dropped after a debriefing, according to Littman.

Petersen eventually pleaded guilty to six counts, including rigging a radio station contest with a $20,000 prize. He faced a sentence of up to 40 years in jail and a $1.5-million fine, but the sentencing was delayed several times, while Petersen continued working for the government. Petersen said the FBI was paying him $600 a month, plus free rent, computers etc., "to help them track down hackers." These hackers include Kevin Mitnick, aka Condor, and Dark Dante, whose real name is Kevin Poulsen, and others.

Then on Oct. 18, 1993, 15 months after entering his first guilty plea, Petersen was confronted inside the federal court offices by David J. Schindler, Assistant US Attorney for the prosecution--(now a private attorney for Scientology)--who asked if he had been committing any crimes while on bail. Petersen asked to have a conference with his attorney, according to Schindler. Petersen met briefly with his attorney, then quickly walked right out of the federal court house and became a fugitive. Attorney Richard Sherman, who was representing a friend of Mitnick's in another hacker case, had accused the FBI of not only actively using Petersen as an informant, but also of turning a blind eye to Petersen's alleged crimes during the time he was in their care. The crimes involve alleged credit card fraud and other computer related crimes.

Petersen was injured in a 1985 hit and run motcycle accident. His left foot was aputated and his spine injured. Petersen claims the FBI refused to allow him to work with or on computers. Given these restrictions Petersen claims he had little choice but to briefly turn back to hacking.

In a May 19 letter to US. Attorney Gen. Janet Reno, Sherman said three agents in Los Angeles engaged "in a course of conduct which is illegal and contrary to bureau policy" in handling Petersen. "It is factually incorrect that we allowed Mr. Petersen to commit crimes," said Schindler. Petersen also concurs with Schindler.

While a fugitive, he hacked into the computers of a commercial lending company, Heller Financial. An unamed associate phoned in two bomb threats to the bank. While the building was being evacuated, he wire transferred $150,000 from Heller Financial to Union Bank, via Mellon Bank. The transfer was discovered before his associate could withdraw the money.

In Nov, 1995, he was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison and three years' probation, and to pay restitution of $40,000
It is also believed by unamed government souces that Petersen worked for the CIA in Amsterdam, although details are unclear. Petersen denies any such connection. Regardless, according to publc information, his travel records and his passport reflect conflicting data.

[3]. The sentence was upheld on appeal dispite his enstensive work for the government.[4].

In his book [5], Jonathan Littman linked Petersen's sealed Texan court case [6] with the Church of Scientology, via the Beverly Hills P.I. Shlomi Michaels and former FBI Special Agent in Charge, (Ted Gunderson) the firm he worked for, contracted him to eavesdrop on the Aznarans, who were high ranking ex-Scientologists living in Texas. The Aznarans were then cooperating with Richard Behar in the writing of the highly critical 1991 Time Magazine cover story.[7]. Vicki and Richard Aznarans left the church under circumstances that they describe as involving duress. They filed a complaint against Scientology alleging false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and other tortious conduct. [8]

With the Fair Game Policy written in their scripture, the Church has sued and counter-sued many of their critics, and even resorted to illegal means to silence them, such as Operation Freakout. Operation Snow White is the biggest infiltration of US government in history. The Aznaran case was one of the on going lawsuits that was reported on the Church's IRS 1023 Tax Exempt Application. The Church was granted tax-exempt status in 1993 under a puzzling confidential agreement, a sudden turn around after 25 years.[9]

List of books referencing Petersen


  1. ^ Richards, James R. (1998). Transnational Criminal Organizations, Cybercrime, and Money Laundering. CRC Press. pp. 70–71. ISBN 9780849328060.,M1. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  2. ^ Johnson, John (July 31, 1994). "Hacker in Hiding; Digital Desperado Who Claims to Have Worked for the FBI Is Now Being Sought by the Agency". Metro; PART-B; Zones Desk (Los Angeles Times): pp. B-1. 
  3. ^ Berger, Leslie (1995-11-28). "Computer Hacker Who Jumped Bail Gets 41 Months". Los Angeles Times: pp. 5. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  4. ^ "United States vs Peterson 98 F.3d 502". 9th Cir.. 1996. 
  5. ^ Littman, Jonathan (1997). The Fugitive Game. pp. 416. ISBN 0316528692, 9780316528696. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  6. ^ "CRIMINAL NO. 3-91-194-T". Dallas Division, The Northern District of Texas, US District Court. 1991. 
  7. ^ Behar, Richard (May 6, 1991). "The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power". Cover Story (Times Magazine).,9171,972865,00.html. Retrieved April 25, 2008. 
  8. ^ "Aznaran v. Church of Scientology of California, Inc., 937 F.2d 611 (C.A.9 (Cal.), 1991)". July 11, 1991. Retrieved April 27, 2008. 
  9. ^ Frantz, Douglas (March 9, 1997). "Scientology's Puzzling Journey From Tax Rebel to Tax Exempt". The New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2008.  Petersen is now a record company executive residing in Lo Angeles

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