Stepfather vouches for Childs

The computer engineer who was allegedly plotting to bring city services to a grinding halt by wiping out its network was searching for a storage locker and may have been also planning his getaway — to Sparks, Nev., according to court records.

But a letter from the man Terry Childs called “dad” paints a different picture of the 43-year-old from Kansas: that of a man who “has always taken responsibilities for his actions and faced his problems head on.”

In the letter to the San Francisco Superior Court, Michael Winter, Childs’ stepfather from age 3 to age 11, said he would “stake my life on Terry Childs’ word.” Winter had asked the court for a reduction in Childs’ $5 million bail earlier this week, which was refused on Wednesday.

Childs, who is defended by attorney Erin Crane, was arrested on July 12 after his superiors at the Department of Technology accused him of tampering with The City’s central network, called FiberWAN, which he helped create and had sole administrative power over. After a lengthy standoff, Childs turned over the system’s access codes to the one person he said he could trust with them: Mayor Gavin Newsom.

As of Thursday, the Department of Recreation and Parks and the Sheriff’s Office each did not have administrative access to their networks — though Technology Department officials said it remained unclear why.

Though Newsom has said Childs did not ask fora deal when turning over the password, a court document filed by the prosecutor claims his defense counsel had offered the password information for a stipulation allowing Childs to be released from jail.

The day after Childs was suspended from his city position for refusing to cough up the passwords, the Pittsburg resident allegedly travelled to Sparks, Nev. ,and was searching for a storage locker, according to the filing. The prosecutors say Childs kept a meticulous travel log and receipts from the trip.

He was arrested the following day, as he parked his car at his Pittsburg home, the document states.

In the document, the prosecution said that releasing Childs could endanger city services, including payroll, sheriff and police data systems, and all government e-mail. It alleged Childs had rigged the system so he could access it remotely, and had a list of other employee’s passwords and usernames. “It would take weeks” to comb through the 1,100 devices, routers, switches and modems in city offices to ensure that Childs had not locked or reconfigured any of those as well as The City’s main network, the document maintains.

kworth@sfexaminer.com

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