Marshals Nab Petersen

   The former Sunset Strip ladies man and fugitive hacker was captured
   Friday, December 11, by Federal Marshals.
   By Kevin Poulsen and Iolande Bloxsom


Former hacker Justin Petersen had stated that he was overseas and even working for the CIA. However, he was arrested Friday evening in Studio City, California-- and no CIA agents were in sight. Recently, US Marshals got a tip that the one-legged hacker was holed up in an apartment just north of Hollywood-- turned in to them by one of his many enemies on the Sunset Strip. The Marshals had been making the rounds of Hollywood clubs for the past seven weeks, showing his picture throughout the bars and strip joints sprinkled along Sunset Boulevard. Over the course of his career, Petersen's left a more than a few ruffled feathers, and after the circuit made by the Marshals, one enemy knew exactly who to call with the tip. Petersen was living in a modest apartment building in Studio City, only a couple of miles from the Strip. He also had three roommates, who allegedly didn't know he was a fugitive. The Marshals entered the apartment using a key provided by the building's manager. When they entered, Petersen was alone, relaxing on his bed and using his laptop computer. After allowing him to put on his prosthetic leg, the Marshals arrested him, and took him to the Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles. Ironically, this is the same place where hacker Kevin Mitnick is currently being held. Petersen rose to fame after helping the FBI arrest Mitnick on a probation violation in the early 1990s. What Next? Petersen faces 5 to 11 months in jail for walking away from supervision. And after that, it's possible he'll be back where he started: on probation. This is contrary to Petersen's claims on his website that after any time served he'll be a completely free man. However, under current sentencing law, he can be reinstated on supervised release-- which, in his case, could mean up to two years of probation. Flashback This is the second fugitive run for Petersen; his last stint underground lasted 10 months. This time, however, Petersen had become somewhat of a public figure. Openly boasting of his run from justice, he used his [13]website to promote his cause, and called his fugitive status a "nonstory." Marshals at the scene of the arrest, however, disagreed. They said Petersen's attitude only made them more committed to bringing him in. In fact, one of the Marshals sent Petersen an email a few days before the bust, saying simply "We're coming, and hell's coming with us." And, in an interview after the arrest, the marshals stated that Petersen had in fact read that message. He just didn't realize who had sent it.


Get a Haircut and Get a Real Job

   By Kevin Poulsen  August 24, 1998

   Sporting blue denim, shoulder-length brown hair with blond highlights,
   Justin Petersen appeared before federal judge Stephen Wilson today and
   admitted to four violations of his probation, before being released to
   a halfway house.

   Petersen  was  hauled  in  last month for failing to obtain employment
   since  his  release  from  prison  in  April of last year, and for the
   related violations of failing to make restitution payments and failure
   to  pay  back taxes. He also admitted to missing two appointments with
   his probation officer, Cathy Nash.

   Nash  recommended  that  Petersen  be  given another chance, but under
   tighter  controls,  beginning  with a stay in a community correctional
   center for a period of up to four months.

                "He's on supervised release and he has to toe the line." 

                                                          -- Judge Wilson

   Assistant  US Attorney David Schindler, who helped Petersen obtain his
   last  job  as  in the early 1990s as a paid FBI informant, reluctantly
   concurred. "Mr. Petersen is getting an enormous break here," Schindler
   noted for the record.

   Jay  Lichtman,  Petersen's  attorney,  argued  that the convicted bank
   thief  and  credit  card  swindler--  whose taste for the Sunset Strip
   nightlife  is legendary-- should not have to endure the indignities of
   a  halfway  house  with  a  9:00 PM curfew. "Petersen is attempting to
   pursue   self-employment,  and  that  involves  contacting  people  by
   computer  and  making  phone  calls--  sometimes  late  at night... He
   doesn't  have  a  car,  so  he'll be traveling by bus" to and from the
   halfway house.

   Judge  Wilson  wasn't  sympathetic,  and offered that had the decision
   been  entirely  his own, he probably wouldn't be releasing Petersen at

   "This  defendant  is,  in  some  ways,  very  anti-societal. There's a
   difference  between  being  anti-societal and non-conformist... He can
   wear  his hair however he wants, live whatever lifestyle he wants, but
   here he's on supervised release and he has to toe the line."