The Bitcoin Baron, a self-proclaimed vigilante responsible for DDoS attacks on civic networks in Madison, Wisc., San Marcos, Texas, and other sites in 2015, has been collared in Phoenix and sentenced to serve 20 months in prison.
The conviction and sentencing is only for the former attack, in which Randall Charles Tucker, who was 20 at the time, disabled the City of Madison’s website for six days, crippled the 911 emergency communication system and degraded the emergency service dispatch system. He went on to boast about the attacks on social media, according to the court documents, and on Skype chats in his gaming community.
The attack’s motivation is unclear, but it came shortly after a fatal shooting of a 19-year-old unarmed black man by a Madison police officer sparked outrage. Police brutality soon became a recurring theme for Tucker.
In the Texas attack, he contacted an activist news site to claim responsibility for the attack, which took down the City of San Marcos’ website, as well as the San Marcos Police Department’s site. He said he was protesting an attack on a 22-year-old Texas woman, whose teeth were reportedly bashed in by a police officer. He told the outlet that he wanted to do “what these police can’t do,” in punishing the officer. However, the officer had already been jailed one year prior to the threat.
He also later told the New York Observer that he targeted “anything [he could] find really that’s got something to do with innocent citizens in the crosshairs of police.”
However, far from being a simple hacktivist filled with an impulse for social justice, a different picture emerges when his activity is collated together.
For instance, in 2014, when he was 19, the Bitcoin Baron sent the D.C.-based video news site News2Share a video of his that he claimed was related to a campaign for hacker group Anonymous; when the site declined to post it, he launched a DDoS campaign. The editor finally posted the video, which ultimately garnered less than 500 views.
After that he began his municipal projects, all taking place in 2015. In addition to Madison and San Marcos, he took down the town website of Moore, Okla., and demanded 100 Bitcoin (about $28,000 at the time), to supposedly demand justice for a man who died in police custody. It’s unclear how he would have used the money for that cause (the town didn’t pay him). Tucker’s other activities include launching DDoS attacks against municipal networks in the Phoenix suburbs of Chandler and Mesa.
He has also been behind DDoS attacks on a number of IRC chat rooms related to hacktivism and gaming.
Some of this story is much more nefarious. He also claimed responsibility for an attack on the website for the Shriners Hospitals for Children organization, which he reportedly defaced with child pornography, according to the Observer.
The hacker pleaded guilty in April of last year to one count of intentional damage to a protected computer, in Madison.
In addition to the jail time, U.S. District Judge Douglas L. Rayes of the District of Arizona also ordered Tucker to pay $69,331.56 in restitution.