Consolidated Press News File
RENO, NV — After pleaded guilty to attempting to bribe a Tesla employee $500,000 to install computer malware at the company’s Nevada electric battery plant in an attempt to steal company secrets for ransom, a Russian man was sentenced Monday to time already spent and will be deported back to Russia.
Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov apologized via videoconference from prison after US District Judge Miranda Du in Reno acknowledged the suspected hack was ineffective and the company network was not hacked.
“I apologize for my decision . . . I am sorry,” Kriuchkov, 27, said through a Russian-language court translator. Kriuchkov speaks fluent English, according to Chris Frey, his court-appointed counsel, but the judge insisted on an interpreter.
A plea bargain between prosecutors and Kriuchkov was accepted by the judge, who promised not to use the firm name in court. For his guilty plea in March of conspiracy to deliberately inflict harm to a secure device, he was sentenced to 10 months in prison, $14,825 in penalties for company time spent researching the alleged attack and handing the matter over to the FBI, and three years of federal oversight if he stays in the US or returns from abroad. He will be held in detention until he leaves the country.
After Kruichkov’s arrest in August in Los Angeles, Tesla CEO Elon Musk admitted that the firm had been the victim of a “serious effort” to acquire company secrets. Federal agents said Kriuchkov was reportedly on his way to an airport to fly out of the region.
The hack was designed to launch a distributed denial-of-service attack by overwhelming the Tesla computer network with junk data, while a second intrusion would enable co-conspirators to steal data from the company network and demand ransom with the threat of releasing the information to the public.
In September, Kriuchkov told a judge that he knew the Russian government was aware of his lawsuit, but investigators and the FBI never made any allegations of links to the Kremlin.