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Sarah Palin Hacker David Kernell Sentenced to Year-and-a-Day

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks to supporters at a Republican National Committee rally in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010. AP

Sarah Palin, file (AP)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (CBS/AP) David Kernell, the 22-year-old man who hacked into Sarah Palin's e-mail during the 2008 presidential campaign, was sentenced Friday to a year and a day, with the judge recommending a halfway house instead of prison.

Kernell hugged family members and friends after hearing the sentence. He declined comment as they left the courthouse with his attorney.

He was an economics major at the University of Tennessee when he deduced the answers to security questions and read e-mail in Palin's private account.

The Republican former vice presidential candidate and her daughter Bristol testified at the trial in late April that the hacking, followed by Kernell's online bragging and providing the password and Palin family telephone numbers to others, caused them emotional hardship. Palin previously declined comment about Kernell's sentence and said it should be up to the judge.

The prosecutors' pre-sentence filings said Kernell, a Democratic legislator's son, had posted online that he found "nothing that would derail her campaign as I had hoped, all I saw was personal stuff, some clerical stuff from when she was governor ... And pictures of her family ... I read everything, every little Blackberry confirmation ... all the pictures, and there was nothing..."

U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Phillips rejected a recommendation by prosecutors that Kernell be sent to prison for 18 months.

Kernell will not start the sentence until the Bureau of Prisons decides the location of his confinement, probably in about 45 days.

"They usually take the recommendation but they are not required to," the judge said.

Kernell, smiling at times after the sentence was announced, spoke during the hearing and apologized.

"I am not going to make any kind of excuses," he said. "I'd like to apologize to the Palin family."

Kernell said that "for the rest of my life I am going to be ashamed, feel guilty for what I have done."

The judge also said Kernell should get mental health treatment based on defense comments Friday that he has had conditions including depression since he was 11.

Kernell was convicted of unauthorized access to a protected computer and destroying records to impede a federal investigation. Jurors acquitted him of wire fraud and deadlocked on an identity theft charge.

Palin did not attend the sentencing.

MORE ON CRIMESIDER
April 22, 2010 - Bristol Palin Testifies Against Her Mother's E-mail Hacker

  • Caroline Black

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