A San Diego student who was found guilty of stealing identities and passwords of fellow students to rig campus elections and win the presidency was sentenced to one year in prison on Monday.
Matthew Weaver, who ran for president of the Associated Students last year, tried to win the Cal State University San Marcos Associated Students presidency by stealing identities of more than 700 students. But just hours before the voting ended, employees found Weaver using a university computer to cast votes for himself and four friends.
The 22-year-old old Huntington Beach resident was arrested in February after the FBI led a year-long investigation of Weaver on suspicion of wire fraud and access device fraud.
If the plan had succeeded, Weaver and his friends would have received a total stipend of $36,000 for their work in the student government. He also would have been in charge of a $300,000 budget for CSUSM.
Weaver pleaded guilty in March to wire fraud, unauthorized access of a computer and identity theft. He also admitted that he used small electronic devices to steal 745 student passwords, using it to check student’s email and Facebook accounts for passwords.
“Weaver determinedly and repeatedly spied on his classmates, stole their passwords, read their secrets, and usurped their votes – and he did it with his eyes wide open,” read the sentencing memorandum. “Weaver actually researched the legality of his scheme beforehand…and then, when he knew it was completely illegal, he researched how to blame someone else.”
U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said Weaver’s behavior serves as a warning to others who believe they won’t get caught for a similar crime.
“Weaver ran roughshod over the privacy rights of hundreds of people so that he could indulge his vanity,” Duffy said in a statement. “If privacy is to mean anything in a digital age, it has to be protected.”