The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that 18 years in a federal prison was appropriate for a Blaine computer hacker who hijacked his neighbors' wireless router and used it to frame them with child porn and threats against Vice President Joe Biden.
Barry Vincent Ardolf, 47, argued that U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank erred by enhancing his sentence on grounds that Ardolf had tried to obstruct justice and because his offense involved more than 10 images of child porn.
In December 2010, Ardolf pleaded guilty in mid-trial to all of the counts against him: unauthorized access to a protected computer, two counts of aggravated identity theft, possession of child pornography, transmission of child pornography and making threats to the president and successors to the presidency. He later tried unsuccessfully to withdraw his plea.
Frank found that Ardolf had tried to obstruct justice by trying to tell his children how to testify and what to say to the judge on his behalf. The judge also found that Ardolf had at least 10 images, even though Ardolf claimed there were just two, plus duplicates of those images.
Chief Judge William Jay Riley of Omaha wrote the 12-page opinion for a unanimous three-judge panel of the appellate court.
"The district court was independently justified in applying the obstruction of justice enhancement based on its finding Ardolf perjured himself when attempting to withdraw his guilty plea. An obstruction of justice enhancement is appropriate where the defendant willfully 'testifies falsely under oath in regard to a material matter,'" Riley wrote.
The court rejected Ardolf's argument that his sentence is unreasonable because he is a single father of three children, a first-time offender, and because his possession of child porn "clearly was not motivated by the rationale behind the child pornography guidelines," but rather, by revenge in a dispute with his neighbors. The court found Frank had considered those factors appropriately and affirmed the sentence.
Dan Browning • 612-673-4493