Law & Courts

Student Hacker Who Changed Grades Gets 30 Days in Jail

By Esmeralda Bermudez, Los Angeles Times (MCT) — August 29, 2011 1 min read

A former Orange County high school student who repeatedly broke into his school and hacked into computers to steal tests and alter his grades will spend 30 days in jail, court officials said.

Omar Shahid Khan, 21, pleaded guilty in Santa Ana on Friday to two felony counts of commercial burglary and one felony count each of altering public records, among other charges, court records show. In addition to jail time, he was ordered to pay nearly $15,000 in restitution and fulfill 500 hours of community service.

In 2008, Khan and a group of friends came up with a plan to improve his grades.

The senior broke into classrooms and administrative offices at night and on weekends to steal Advanced Placement tests, prosecutors said. He placed spyware on several computers to learn passwords and then signed on to change his test scores and grades, prosecutors said. One night, he sneaked into administrative offices and changed his transcripts using the registrar’s log in and password, prosecutors said.

He planned to use those transcripts to appeal denial of admission into several top-tier schools, including USC and UC Berkley.

Toward the end of the school year, Khan and his friend Tanvir Singh broke into a classroom to steal an English test, but they were caught by a janitor, prosecutors said. Singh pleaded guilty in 2008 to one felony count of attempting to steal or remove public records and one misdemeanor count of computer access and fraud, prosecutors said. He was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and three years of probation, prosecutors said.

Susan Kang Schroeder, the district attorney’s chief of staff, said Khan got a huge break from the judge. He was originally charged with more than 60 felonies and faced up to 38 years in prison.

She said she hopes Khan learned a lesson.

“Hopefully he has turned his life around,” Kang Schroeder said. “If you’re burglarizing a school, especially when you’re trying to cheat the system, you’re going to get caught and face consequences.”

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