Hacker pleads guilty to stealing credit card numbers
Albert Gonzalez, the 28-year-old hacker from Miami who recently admitted he helped steal tens of millions of credit and debit card numbers from TJX Cos., BJs Wholesale Club, and other retailers, confessed to an even bigger heist today.
In US District Court in Boston, Gonzalez pleaded guilty to conspiracy and conspiracy to engage in wire fraud for his role in stealing more than 130 million credit and debit card numbers from Heartland Payment Systems, a New Jersey company that processes card payments for thousands of businesses, and several retailers. A sentencing hearing was scheduled for March 19.
Speaking in a low, quiet voice, Gonzalez told the court he had been addicted to alcohol and drugs since he was 16, including marijuana, cocaine, LSD, and psychedelic mushrooms.
“He is sorry. He has a desire to put this behind him. This is not a CEO. This is a young kid that did some pretty reckless things,” said Martin Weinberg, a Boston attorney who was representing Gonzalez.
Prosecutors, who called the case largest involving credit card theft ever prosecuted in the United States, identified the retailers from which Gonzalez stole the data as the convenience store chain 7-Eleven Inc. and Hannaford Brothers Co., the supermarket chain based in Maine, plus two unnamed retailers.
Under a plea agreement, Gonzalez agreed not to seek a sentence of less than 17 years while prosecutors agreed to seek no more than 25 years. Gonzalez originally faced up to 35 years in prison.