James Ancheta, 20, also downloaded adware programs so he could profit from the placements, federal prosecutors said. The 17-count indictment charges Ancheta with conspiracy, money laundering, transmission of a malicious code to a government computer and accessing a protected computer to commit fraud. If convicted on all counts, he could face 50 years in prison.
"With one command, he could redirect thousands of computers to another server he controlled," Assistant U.S. Attorney James M. Aquilina said.
Among computers infected by the malicious code, which helped launch viruses and send spam e-mails, were machines operated by the Naval Air Warfare Center and the Defense Information Systems Agency, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors also want to confiscate more than $60,000 in cash, a BMW and computer equipment they say Ancheta used in the scheme.