Judge won’t free Russian accused of hacking Seattle-area businesses
A federal judge in Guam cleared the way Thursday for a Russian man accused of stealing thousands of credit-card numbers in the Puget Sound area and elsewhere to be sent to Washington state to appear in court.
Times staff and news services
A federal judge in the U.S. territory of Guam denied a motion Thursday to release a Russian lawmaker’s son accused of hacking computers inside hundreds of U.S. businesses, including eight Puget Sound-area restaurants.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood ruled her court had jurisdiction over the case against Roman Seleznev and allowed it to move forward, even though his lawyers had filed a motion to dismiss.
Another ruling confirming Seleznev’s identity cleared the way for him to be sent to Washington state, where documents filed in federal court in Seattle allege he hacked into retailers’ computers, installed malicious software and stole credit-card numbers from 2009 to 2011.
The Secret Service’s Seattle office was alerted to the thefts in November 2010, when customers at the former Broadway Grill on Capitol Hill complained of fraudulent charges on their cards, Secret Service agent Bob Kierstead told The Seattle Times last month.
The other Washington businesses Seleznev allegedly hacked were Grand Central Baking, Mad Pizza locations in Seattle and Tukwila, Village Pizza in Anacortes and the Casa Mia Italian Restaurant in Yelm, Thurston County.
The indictment estimates that revenues from the international scheme exceeded $2 million for Seleznev and his associates through the sale of more than 140,000 credit-card numbers.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has accused the U.S. government of kidnapping Seleznev, the son of prominent Russian lawmaker Valery Seleznev.
Seleznev’s girlfriend, Anna Otisko, said she was with him when he was grabbed by unknown men at an airport in the Maldives, a remote island nation in the Indian Ocean. He was then put on a plane to Guam in the western Pacific.
Seleznev appeared in court dressed in khaki cargo shorts and a prison-issued blue short-sleeved T-shirt. His ankles were shackled.
U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Daniel Schwandner told the court he approached Seleznev in a tourist police station at the Maldives airport and asked if he was Seleznev. Schwandner said the man said yes.
In court, the judge advised Seleznev of his rights, including his right to waive the identity hearing and his right to plead guilty or no contest. She also asked if he had met with the Russian consul. He replied yes in English.
He was represented by attorneys Patrick Civille and Joshua Walsh, and by his side was a Russian language court interpreter. New York attorneys Robert Ray and Eli Goldin joined the defense team via telephone.
The grand jury indicted Seleznev on charges of bank fraud, obtaining information from a protected computer, aggravated identity theft, trafficking in unauthorized access devices and possessing stolen credit card numbers.
He’s also charged in a similar, but separate indictment in Nevada.
Material from The Associated Press and Seattle Times staff reporter Erin Heffernan was used in this report.