United States v. Sutcliffe, 505 F.3d 944 (9th Cir. 2007)

Sutcliffe, a computer technician, was convicted of three counts of making interstate threats (via the Internet) to injure another and five counts of transferring social security numbers with the intent to aid and abet unlawful activity. Global Crossing terminated Sutcliffe’s employment shortly after he was hired because he had failed to provide his social security number or disclose past criminal convictions on his job application. He also threatened the HR director. After his termination, he began picketing outside Global Crossing’s building with a sign referring to a website he had created. On the website, Sutcliffe displayed the personal information of over 1,000 employees, including their payroll information, social security numbers, birthdates and residential addresses; some of this information was hyperlinked to an article about identity theft. After Global Crossing obtained a restraining order against Sutcliffe, he added content to his website in which he threatened the process server, the company’s assistant general counsel (to whom he said he was “dead-icated”) and the chairman of the company. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the criminal conviction and the sentence of 46 months of imprisonment. Cf. People v. Ayala, 155 Cal. App. 4th 604 (2007) (upholding $171,000 restitution payment to restaurant employees who lost wages after defendant falsely claimed to have found a severed finger in a bowl of chili).