HARTFORD, Conn. – A Connecticut man charged with hacking into more than 250 iCloud accounts of Hollywood stars and ordinary people has agreed to plead guilty, federal prosecutors said Thursday.
The charge against George Garofano, 26, of North Branford, stems from the investigation into the 2014 scandal in which the private photos of Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, Kate Upton and others were made public.
Garofano agreed to plead guilty to unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information, prosecutors said. He faces up to five years in prison at sentencing at a date to be determined.
The case was filed by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles, but both sides agreed to transfer the case to Connecticut.
Garofano sent emails that appeared to be from Apple encouraging victims to reveal usernames and passwords, or to enter them on a website where he could retrieve them, prosecutors said.
He then used the information to illegally access his victims’ iCloud accounts, which allowed him to steal sensitive and private photographs and videos, which he often shared, authorities said.
Although some of Garofano’s victims were celebrities, many ordinary people who live in Connecticut were also victimized, prosecutors said.
He was the fourth person to be charged in the case.
Garofano is remorseful, his lawyer said.
“George is a good person who was taken advantage of by several hackers more sophisticated than himself,” Richard Lynch told the Hartford Courant via email. “He made mistakes, admits his guilt, apologizes to the victims and seeks the leniency of the court.”