Ed Kramer Indicted in Hacking Case

A Gwinnett County (GA) jury has indicted Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader, and three men — private investigator T.J. Ward, former Forsyth County sheriff’s detective Frank Karic, and Dragon Con co-founder Ed Kramer — on three counts of computer trespass reports the Gwinnett Daily Post (“Gwinnett Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader, three others indicted for computer trespassing”.)

The indictments handed down Wednesday said Schrader and her three co-defendants “knowingly use[d] a computer network without authority and with the intent to interfere with the use of the Gwinnett County Justice Center computer network” without authority and “with the intent to alter the computer network” in violation of Georgia’s computer trespass statute. Each felony count carries a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Kramer was denied bond and remains in jail. Judge Schrader was released without having to pay bond after turning herself in. Ward and Karic’s bonds have been set at $25,000.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution story, “Gwinnett judge, DragonCon co-founder indicted in hacking case”,

The case is being handled by the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia because Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter is considered a witness in this case. He had previously turned the investigation over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for the same reason.

Porter has said the judge claimed that he hacked her computer. Porter has vehemently denied having tried to access Schrader’s computer and said in an April hearing that her accusation raises questions about her ability to be impartial at the bench.

Court documents allege Schrader hired a private investigator in February because she suspected someone was trying to remotely access her county-issued computer outside of business hours. The investigator, T.J. Ward, hired Ed Kramer to monitor activity on Schrader’s computer.

Kramer, who hasn’t been involved with DragonCon for years, had previously worked for Ward as a computer forensic analyst. A “WireShark” monitoring device was placed on Schrader’s computer, which allowed Kramer to monitor it for any suspicious activity.

Investigators first discovered Kramer was working with Schrader after Kramer’s February arrest on unrelated charges. Kramer allegedly took a photo of a child at a doctor’s office, which is illegal because he is a registered sex offender. It also violated his probation related to a 2013 child molestation conviction. When police searched Kramer’s computer, officers found a file with Schrader’s name on it.

Judge Schrader has been recused from criminal cases since April, as DA Porter’s office handles those prosecutions, but she continued to oversee civil cases. The state Judicial Qualifications Commission will determine if she is allowed to stay on the bench while her own criminal case proceeds.

[Thanks to Nancy Collins and Ray Radlein for the story.]

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9 thoughts on “Ed Kramer Indicted in Hacking Case

  1. Kramer news stories have felt like icebergs for years—like we are only seeing 10% of it. I hope I live long enough to see the definitive biography/true crime book that reveals all, because there are so many missing pieces.

    Where is Ronan Farrow when you need him!

  2. Wireshark is software for recording and analyzing data going through a network interface. I have used it only a little bit, to debug some networking software. I don’t think it can access other systems on a network or interfere with them.

  3. @Tom Becker: Without seeing the actual court filings, I wouldn’t assume that a news story like this is completely or accurately representing the technical content; they may just have seized upon the most dramatic-sounding term (“shark!”) and taken it as a synecdoche for everything Kramer was doing.

    However, intercepting all the network traffic to and from a single computer is not a harmless act with regard to the rest of the network. It means Kramer could have seen things that Schrader had access to, but that she did not intend to be giving him, such as her passwords to court systems. That’s often a first step toward obtaining kinds of access that the hacker’s first target does not have, but there’s no way to know just from this report.

    For that matter, even if Schrader did intend to make the entirety of her own use of court systems visible to Kramer, it’s very unlikely that she had authority to do so– any more than she would have the right to let Kramer place an audio bug in her own office and listen in on everyone who was audible from there.

  4. Wireshark can put a network card into promiscuous mode; able to see all traffic on its network segment.

  5. Judge Schrader has been recused from criminal cases since April, as DA Porter’s office handles those prosecutions, but she continued to oversee civil cases.

    Good grief – at the very least she’s shown some very bad judgement

  6. The story mentions a Wireshark “device” which could mean a computer running Wireshark and one of the “network tap” devices which are basically small Ethernet switches with one port that’s jimmied to have all traffic forwarded to it. That allows one to passively log all the traffic in and out of the machine, without needing to install software on it.

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