Fearing for safety, LulzSec, Anonymous stool pigeon Sabu skips court date

Hector Monsegur worries about physical threats, may get impersonation charge dismissed

Hector “Sabu” Monsegur, 28, who gained infamy and a temp job as an FBI informer during his stint as a leader of the anti-everything script-kid sabotage squad LulzSec last summer, failed to appear in court today due to what his lawyer called "security issues and physical threats."

Who threatened the strutting hacker-leading turncoat seriously enough to make him afraid of showing up at a heavily guarded Manhattan criminal courthouse on a charge of criminal impersonation?

NoMan – or, actually, the modern equivalent, Anonymous, the hacktivist group that gave birth to and then reabsorbed LulzSec last fall.

Federal agents rounded up most of the LulzSec'ers last summer, but continued pursuing them in the U.K. and United States until March, when the FBI nabbed the five remaining leaders, including its loudest voice, "Sabu."

On the same day federal agents revealed much of the evidence against LulzSec came directly from Sabu, who had been acting as an informant since being arrested in June, 2011 and then released under supervision to gather more evidence.

The trail that led feds to Sabu in the first place came largely from hackers and hacktivist groups offended by LulzSec's bragging, triumphalism, provocative choice of targets (U.S. Senate, CIA.gov) and refusal to acknowledge the accomplishments or abilities of hackers with more experience and (in their own estimation) far greater skills than LulzSec.

Those whose efforts to "dox" Sabu by posting evidence of his activities, home domains and servers included outspoken LulzSec foes TeaMp0isoN (Team Poison), lone hacktivists like th3j35t3r (The Jester) and WebNinjas.

Monsegur (Sabu) has been in hiding under house arrest or federal protection since the last rounds of LulzSec arrests.

The hearing Monsegur skipped today was to evaluate a criminal charge of impersonating a federal law enforcement officer on the same day the rest of the LulzSec leaders were arrested.

During the confusion of a raid on the Jacob Riis housing project in Manhattan, where Monsegur/Sabu lived and was actively helping the FBI gather evidence on his friends, a New York cop asked Monsegur for his ID.

“Relax," Sabu/Monsegur allegedly replied. "I’m a federal agent. I am an agent of the federal government."

The Smoking Gun, which covered the hearing and Monsegur's failure to appear, pointed out that Sabu was at that time a federal informant, not an agent. That makes claiming to be an agent rather than a snitch when questioned by another law-enforcement agency a crime, though a misdemeanor rather than a felony.

In Manhattan Criminal Court, Judge Diana Boyar agreed to excuse Monsegur's absence and adjourned the case for six months to consider whether it should be dismissed. If Sabu stays out of trouble for that time, TSG, writes, the charge will almost certainly be dropped.

That only applies to the charge of impersonating a law enforcement officer, however.

Sabu has been neither detained nor tried on the charge of impersonating the leader of criminally active hacktivists.

The punishment for that is unlikely to be as drastic as punishments the court could have laid down. However, it's unlikely that charge will be dropped as easily either.

Read more of Kevin Fogarty's CoreIT blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinFogarty. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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