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Second defendant in Shinnecock hacking case expected to be sentenced

A second defendant is expected to be sentenced in federal court on Monday in a case of computer hacking that divided the Shinnecock Indian Nation as it sought to open casinos in the state nearly a decade ago.

A person familiar with the 8-year-old case and correspondence about it say the former principal of a Long Island investigations firm is expected to be identified and sentenced in federal court in Central Islip, indicating a guilty plea has already been entered.

Court papers indicate that a John Doe defendant was charged in 2013 with two counts — computer intrusion conspiracy and overt acts — in connection with the case, which remains sealed.

However, correspondence shown to Newsday by a party involved in the case indicates prosecutors at the U.S. attorney’s office have filed a motion to unseal it in anticipation of sentencing.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment Thursday.

The case was launched after a tribal member, Chuck Randall, charged that his email account had been accessed without his permission to reveal details of casino gaming initiatives he and four other tribal leaders had been working on two years after the tribe gained federal recognition in 2010. The nation in exposing the plan alleged it was done without authorization — a charge the men denied — and sought to oust two tribal trustees and two tribal gaming authority members from their positions as a result.

The men, including trustees Lance Gumbs and Gordell Wright, refused to leave their positions as they strenuously fought the charges.

They found vindication in 2016 when federal prosecutors announced the guilty plea of a former gaming authority board member, Karen Hunter, to a misdemeanor charge of illegally hacking a private computer in connection with the scheme to access Randall’s emails. She was sentenced to probation.

Randall in an interview this week said he believes “there are others involved in this conspiracy,” both tribe members and outsiders, but it’s uncertain whether federal prosecutors will pursue them, or reveal the full underlying conspiracy. “It’s my hope that someday they’ll be brought to justice and the total narrative will be told,” he said.

Randall in 2016 said Hunter’s activities caused “far reaching” and “immeasurable harm” to him and the four other tribal leaders who were “falsely accused of intentionally trying to harm our tribe for personal gain.”

Lance Gumbs, a tribal trustee, said after Hunter’s sentencing that the hackers’ actions caused “tremendous impact on the tribe in terms of the division it created” while costing the Shinnecock Nation sorely needed economic gain.

A lawyer for the John Doe defendant listed in court papers didn’t return a call seeking comment.

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