4 April 2016 00:00
Higinio is a 34-year-old programmer. He lives in Austin with his wife, Kylie, and his son, Brody. Higinio Ochoa got his first computer when he was 10. “At the time my grandmother worked for NASA... She was an EEG technician and did EEGs on the astronauts, so very early on she got this thing that people are calling a personal computer. Plugged that in, played with it, and I was hooked.”
So, in January 2012, Higinio’s life was in fifth gear. He and Kylie were falling head over heels, engaged within weeks. The Occupy movement was exploding and Higinio spent his days hacking government databases all over the country. At the same time, he was taunting the authorities on Twitter, and generally being a smartass. Then one day in February of that same year, he hacked into the Alabama Department of Public Safety website, and while poking around, and found an unsecured connection to the National Crime Information Center database.
But a of couple weeks later, he was awoken by a pounding on his door. When he looked through the keyhole, he saw FBI agents pointing guns at the entrance to his house.
“I seriously for about two seconds thought I’m just going to keep the door locked... I’m going to take my laptop and I’m going to stick it in the oven. But it just it was like no, it’s at this point, game over, I’m caught.”
They took him out of the house at gunpoint, threw him in an SUV, and brought him into an interrogation room. And his Twitter feed, the one that detailed all of his exploits while simultaneously taunting the cops, came back to haunt him. The Twitter feed suddenly became evidence of all the hacks he had committed that authorities were using against him.
Higinio took a plea deal and was sentenced to 27 months in prison. He went to prison in November of 2012 and served 18 months. A few weeks before he was scheduled to be released in September of 2014, his judge modified the terms of his release so that instead of having access to monitored Internet, he would have no Internet at all.