Student Hackers Looking At 20 Years In Jail

    November 7, 2007

Two former students who attended Fresno State have been charged by a federal grand jury for hacking into the schools computer network and altering their grades.

John Escalera, 29 of Fresno, California, and Gustavo Razo Jr., 28 of Pasadena, have been charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, identity theft and unauthorized computer access. The men if convicted could receive up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000.

Escalera who worked at Fresno State’s computer help desk used his access to a PeopleSoft management system to hack the password of a supervisor and then was able to get administrative privileges along with usernames and passwords of a number of people who were authorized to change grades.

The indictment says that Escalera changed his own grades from lower to higher and did the same for his friend Gustavo Razo Jr. The changes were made in 2004 but not discovered until an audit in January 2005.

Jeri Echeverria, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Fresno State sent a memo to faculty and staff that said," I would like to assure you that accurate maintenance of grade records is of utmost importance to all members of the university. Proper measures have been taken to both rectify the situation and deal with the offenders."

Escalera and Razo pleaded not guilty and are awaiting a hearing on November 16.