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Shinnecock member sentenced for unauthorized computer access

Karen Hunter was sentenced to 3 years’ probation after pleading guilty to illegally accessing emails of a fellow tribal member.

Shinnecock Indian Nation tribal member Karen Hunter, shown

Shinnecock Indian Nation tribal member Karen Hunter, shown in 2010, was sentenced to 3 years of probation following her plea to unauthorized access of a computer. Photo Credit: Waxwords Inc.

Shinnecock Indian Nation tribal member Karen Hunter has been sentenced to 3 years’ probation and ordered to participate in a mental health treatment program, after pleading guilty to unauthorized access of a computer in a case that sharply divided the Southampton tribe.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlene R. Lindsay this month also ordered Hunter to pay a $25 special assessment in the case, which alleged she illegally accessed a trove of emails from fellow tribal member Charles Randall in an alleged plot to undermine gaming and other commercial projects Randall and others were developing.

Hunter faced a maximum of 1 year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

When Hunter, 64, pleaded guilty in October 2016, Randall said Hunter’s activities caused “far reaching” and “immeasurable harm” to himself and four other tribal leaders who were “falsely accused of intentionally trying to harm our tribe for personal gain.”

In court papers, prosecutors said FBI agents, following a summer 2012 raid at the reservation, determined that Randall’s email account was “unlawfully and remotely accessed” nine times between February and May 2012.

At the time, Randall and former trustees Lance Gumbs and Gordell Wright, along with tribal gaming authority members Barre Hamp and Phillip Brown, were working to bring commercial projects, including a casino, to the tribe.

Court papers say Hunter “herself did not personally employ sophisticated technical means to access the victim’s email account, but rather availed herself of the services of a third party and an offshore company that specialized in providing ‘hacking’ services for compensation.”

Randall said he has been told a second person could be charged in the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth D. DuCharme, who appeared in court for prosecutors, declined to comment.

Hunter’s attorney, Randi Chavis, wasn’t available for comment.

In a five-page impact statement submitted to the court, Randall said Hunter “weaponized my emails when she accused me and these four other men of intentionally trying to harm our tribe for personal gain, a blatant lie she used to deliberately fraud the Shinnecock Nation.”

Randall in his note clarified that the men were working on businesses that would be owned by the tribe.

“Our vision was to bring prosperity and social services to our nation, and she stole that hope,” he wrote.

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