MOUNT ZION — A Mount Zion High School student is pleading not guilty to three charges of tampering with computers after police said he shut down his school district’s computer network while trying to sabotage a homework assignment.

Gage C. Hart, 18, appeared in Macon County Circuit Court on Wednesday and was represented by Chief Public Defender David Ellison. Ellison told Judge Phoebe Bowers that Hart was waiving a preliminary hearing on three counts of computer tampering/insert program charges, which are Class 4 felonies.

Ellison assigned public defender Tiffany Senger to defend Hart and Bowers put the case on the trial list of Judge Thomas Griffith. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for March 6.

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Mount Zion Police investigated the attacks on Mount Zion School District’s computer network and soon traced the incidents to Hart. Lt. Mike Foster told the Herald & Review the first attack came Nov. 20 and shut down the computer system for about an hour. A second attack struck Nov. 26 and disrupted service for about five hours. A third and final onslaught hit service again on the morning of Nov. 27.

Police said the aim of the attacks was to knock out a homework assignment but “denial of service” intrusions shut everything down. Denial of service involves bombarding computer systems with so much information they overload and cease working.

Foster said, however, that the school’s computer firewall system prevented any lasting damage. “...The firewall was doing what it was supposed to do and didn’t let any information out or in,” he said at the time.

The Public Defender's Office has a policy of not commenting on pending cases.  

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Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid


Macon County Courts Reporter

Macon County courts reporter for the Herald & Review.

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