Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis can breathe easy now. The man who stood accused of hacking into the email accounts of Johansson, Kunis and others has pleaded guilty to nine felony counts, including unauthorized access to a protected computer in furtherance of wiretapping and wire fraud.
Christopher Chaney, who was indicted on 28 counts, faces up to 60 years in prison.
During his hearing, Chaney — a 35-year-old resident of Jacksonville, Fla. — admitted that he had hacked into Johansson, Kunis and approximately 50 other entertainment-industry denizens' email accounts by clicking on their emails, hitting the "Forgot your password?" feature, and then correctly answering the security questions using information he'd found during an internet search.
Cheney admitted downloading photographs he obtained, many of which were explicit, to a fellow hacker and a pair of gossip websites. Nude photos of Johansson, which she took herself and were intended for her then-husband Ryan Reynolds, subsequently wound up on the internet.
Chaney also said that, after hacking into his victims' accounts, he would send emails to the victims' friends, posing as the friends to ask for more photographs.
“Today's guilty pleas shine a bright light on the dark underworld of computer hacking,” U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr, whose office prosecuted the case, said. “This case demonstrates that everyone, even public figures, should take precautions to shield their personal information from the hackers that inhabit that dark underworld. It also demonstrates that the Department of Justice will take whatever steps are necessary to protect Americans from harm in cyberspace.”
Chaney is scheduled for sentencing on July 23.