By Bill Van Nimwegen
In an Arizona court last week, U.S. District Judge Douglas L. Rayes sentenced Randall Charles Tucker (22) to 20 months in prison and ordered him to pay $69,331 in restitution for one count of intentional damage to a protected computer. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Tucker pleaded guilty to the charge last April.
Tucker was a resident of Apache Junction when his home was searched on April 9, 2015 and he was arrested for computer tampering. The arrest followed a six month investigation by the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Tucker admitted to executing a series of attacks in March 2015, against various city websites, including one hosted by Madison, Wisconsin.
In the Madison attack, the city’s website was disabled, which crippled its internet-connected emergency communications system. Emergency responders missed 9-1-1 calls and the automatic system was slowed to a crawl.
Tucker used the handle “Bitcoin Baron,” but became better known in computer circles as the Bumbling Bitcoin Baron because he rarely covered his tracks.
When a federal search warrant was served at Tucker’s Apache Junction home in 2015, he had been boasting online and taking credit for computer system attacks on the State of Arizona and several other cities including Chandler, Phoenix and Mesa.
Authorities say that in October, 2014 Tucker used a YouTube video to ask the State of Arizona to turn over two children, who were under the protection of the Department of Child Safety (DCS), to their parents. In the video, Tucker threatened a cyber-attack if the children were not released to their mother. On October 7, DCS reported an attack that shut down e-mail services.
The threat against Mesa stemmed from Tucker blaming the Mesa Police Department for a shooting spree in March 2015. In a posted video, a disguised voice believed to belong to Tucker says “Hello, Mesa Police Department, I’m Bitcoin Baron. How do you let an ex-convict with so much felonies go free? Ryan Giroux should have been in prison for life from the get go.” The voice continues, “I will be targeting your site mesaaz.gov as my primary target.” According to court records, on March 19 Mesa’s online utility bill and court fine payment systems were shut down for hours, apparently from a cyber-attack.
Court documents show that Bitcoin Baron’s identity was revealed through online tracking of social media sites and online news sites that had hosted Tucker’s videos under threat of disruption to their business. Tucker also tipped his hand with Twitter comments that revealed he was in trouble with law enforcement over another issue. The tweet was accompanied by a photo of the charges against him.
DPS discovered that Randall Charles Tucker had pending aggravated assault charges in Pinal County which led them to identify him as Bitcoin Baron and make an arrest.