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Ex-AOL employee pleads guilty in spam case

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(CNN) -- A former AOL software engineer accused of stealing 92 million screen names has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and interstate transport of stolen property.

Jason Smathers, 24, of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, faces a maximum sentence of 15 years and up to $500,000 in fines at a May 20 hearing, although federal guidelines call for significantly less.

Smathers submitted a plea in December that was rejected by U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in New York, who said the government had to provide more information.

The government accused Smathers of using the ID code of another AOL employee to access a database in May 2003 and sell stolen information about all 30 million AOL subscribers to a co-conspirator.

The other man, Sean Dunaway, 21, of Las Vegas, Nevada, was accused of using the names to send spam promoting his Internet gambling business. He is also accused of reselling the list of names.

Charges are pending against Dunaway. A court date is expected to be set next month, according to the office of the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, where the case was filed.

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