Journalist sentenced to 2 years in LA Times hacking case

In this April 23, 2013 file photo, Matthew Keys, right, walks to the federal courthouse for his arraignment with his attorney Jason Leiderman, in Sacramento. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli,file)

In this April 23, 2013 file photo, Matthew Keys, right, walks to the federal courthouse for his arraignment with his attorney Jason Leiderman, in Sacramento. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli,file)

SACRAMENTO — A well-known social media journalist was sentenced to two years in federal prison Wednesday after he was convicted of conspiring with the hacking group Anonymous to break into the Los Angeles Times’ website and alter a story.

Despite his role in the news media, federal prosecutors in Sacramento say Matthew Keys, 29, of Vacaville was simply a disgruntled employee striking back at his former employer.

U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller sentenced him Wednesday after he was convicted in October of providing login credentials to The Tribune Co.’s computer system.

The company owns the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and other media companies including FOX affiliate KTXL-TV in Sacramento.

Keys worked at the television station until he was fired two months before the December 2010 hacking.

He was convicted in October of providing the login information that a hacker used to gain access to the Times’ computer system and change the story. Prosecutors say Keys posted the information in an Internet chat room, urged hackers to attack his former employer and praised the outcome.

When charges were filed in 2013, he was fired from his then-employer, the Reuters news agency.

His attorneys argued the hacking was a relatively harmless prank. Restoring the story’s original headline, byline and first paragraphs took less than an hour and cost less than the $5,000 required to make the violation a felony, they argued unsuccessfully.

Keys’ attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Prosecutors said employees spent 333 hours responding to the hack at a cost of nearly $18,000.

“Although he did no lasting damage, Keys did interfere with the business of news organizations, and caused the Tribune Company to spend thousands of dollars protecting its servers,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner said in a statement. “Those who use the Internet to carry out personal vendettas against former employers should know that there are consequences for such conduct.”

CaliforniaFoxKTXL-tVLos Angeles TimesMatthew KeysreutersThe Tribune Co.Vacaville

Just Posted

A large crack winds its way up a sidewalk along China Basin Street in Mission Bay on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
San Francisco’s sinking sidewalks: Is climate change to blame?

‘In the last couple months, it’s been a noticeable change’

For years, Facebook employees have identified serious harms and proposed potential fixes. CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg have rejected the remedies, causing whisteblowers to multiple. (Eric Thayer/The New York Times)
Facebook’s problems at the top: Social media giant is not listening to whistleblowers

Whistleblowers multiply, but Zuckerberg and Sandberg don’t heed their warnings

Maria Jimenez swabs her 7-year-old daughter Glendy Perez for a COVID-19 test at Canal Alliance in San Rafael on Sept. 25. (Penni Gladstone/CalMatters)
Rapid COVID-19 tests in short supply in California

‘The U.S. gets a D- when it comes to testing’

Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led a late-game comeback against the Packers, but San Francisco lost, 30-28, on a late field goal. (Courtesy of San Francisco 49ers)
The Packers beat the Niners in a heartbreaker: Don’t panic

San Francisco is no better and no worse than you thought they were.

A new ruling will thwart the growth of solar installation companies like Luminalt, which was founded in an Outer Sunset garage and is majority woman owned. (Philip Cheung, New York Times)
A threat to California’s solar future and diverse employment pathways

A new ruling creates barriers to entering the clean energy workforce

Most Read