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Judge sentenced man to 6 1/2 years for computer theft

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Jack Writes: YAKIMA, Wash. - A Washington man was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison for a multimillion-dollar computer hardware fraud. Stephen Matthew Griffitt, 34 of Pasco, Wash., pleaded guilty in October to two counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering involving theft of computer equipment. At a sentencing Monday, U.S. District Judge Lonny Suko also ordered Griffitt

Prosecutors contend that Griffitt established several businesses in 2000 to buy and sell Internet-related computer equipment, primarily manufactured by San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems Inc. From about October 2002 through June 2003, Griffitt fraudulently obtained valid serial numbers for Cisco access servers. He would then contact Cisco and indicate that the piece of equipment had failed.

Cisco would send a replacement product, and Griffitt would then sell that equipment to others, prosecutors said. Prosecutors said Griffitt also ripped off a number of computer businesses and telecommunications companies by either buying equipment from them that he never paid for or by selling without producing the goods. In return for his plea, prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence of just over five years in prison. While awaiting sentencing, however, Griffitt was arrested by Pasco police on charges he bounced a check as part of car-buying scam. Prosecutors accused Griffitt of violating the terms of his plea deal and responded by upping his recommended sentence to 6 1/2 years in prison - a recommendation not opposed by Griffitt's counsel. Defense attorney Adam Moore said his client's behavior was a result of a long addition to prescription painkillers. Three co-defendants, including Griffitt's wife, Melinda, pleaded guilty to reduced charges and were placed on probation.


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