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Accused 'NullCrew' hacker locked up again

A federal judge had warned Timothy French to stay off the Internet.

But authorities caught the accused “NullCrew” hacker lurking in his car outside a Tennessee McDonald’s in September, taking advantage of the restaurant’s free Wi-Fi signal. So U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel G. Martin quickly ordered French locked up Tuesday.

“It ain’t fun for me either,” Martin said.

French is accused of using his computer skills to help target schools and big businesses. The same judge revoked his bond in May over violations that included allegations of drug use, skipping drug tests and missing counseling appointments. Martin later ordered French’s release and ultimately let him live with his father in Tennessee.

But federal prosecutors said police in Morristown looked at surveillance footage after French’s car was vandalized Sept. 21 at a local McDonald’s. The feds say stills from that video show French had a powered-up laptop in his car. Students from a local school also said they saw French hanging out in the parking lot for “hours at a time.”

A police officer called to the same McDonald’s to investigate a suspicious person Oct. 9 also found French sitting in his car with a laptop. French allegedly told the officer he had been using the Wi-Fi and did so “on a normal basis.”

“This is a big deal,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Romero told the judge Tuesday.

French’s attorney, Candace Jackson, did not dispute that French had broken the rules handed down by the court. French apologized to the judge.

“I’m not trying to blame anybody but myself,” French said.

The “NullCrew” group that French is alleged to have joined has tried to publicly embarrass targets for political reasons. It boasted of wanting to “f— the system” and in 2012 claimed credit for hacking the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense.

Though French is not charged with that attack, he is accused of conspiring with others to take 12,000 customer usernames and passwords from Bell Canada and post them online. He allegedly used the online handles “Orbit,” @Orbit,” “@Orbit_g1rl,” “crysis,” “rootcrysis” and “c0rps3.”