Judge orders accused Capital One hacker to remain in custody

Posted at 9:29 PM, Aug 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-23 21:29:02-04

SEATTLE -  The alleged Capital One hacker Paige Thompson will remain in the holding facility her attorney said he has been fighting to get her out of because she is a transgender woman.

The fight to obtain her release from detention escalated in federal court Friday as Attorney Mohammad Hamoudi spoke in front of Judge Michelle Peterson.

“Ms. Thompson is at a greater risk for harm at this facility,” Hamoudi said.

At risk, the defense says, because the 33-year-old transgender woman is behind bars with men at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac.

The defense requested Thompson be released to a halfway house better equipped for her needs.

Prosecutors Andrew Friedman and Steven Masada worked to keep Thompson behind bars. Friedman said it's not up to the courts to facilitate how a defendant is housed, it’s up to the Bureau of Prisons.

Friedman said the government’s main concern is Thompson’s harmful behavior to herself and others. They also say a lack of employment, housing and ties to the community make her a flight risk.

KCPQ spoke to Thompson`s roommate in the past, who said she would not be welcomed back to the South Seattle home.

But on Friday, Thompson’s long-time friend Tim Carstens, from the tech community, showed up to court to support her.

Carstens said Thompson is not the tech mastermind the government is making her out to be.

He said she breached the data by most likely snooping around randomly and that she didn't even know what to do with all the stolen information. Thompson is accused of stealing more than 100 million Capital One accounts. It is believed to be the second-largest breach in US history.

As of now, prosecutors say there is no evidence Thompson sold or used the stolen data, but the damage is still massive. Capital One's stocks took a dive after news of the breach, and now it's estimated to have cost the company $100 to $150 million in losses. In addition to Capital One, Thompson is under investigation of breaching '30 victim companies.’

Related: Capital One breach exposed bank data for the most financially vulnerable customers

Economic loss is another aspect prosecutors say shows Thompson’s harm to the community.

A couple in 2018 requested a protective order against Thompson saying she harassed and stalked them for seven years. The couple wrote, "We moved to get away from her."

Court documents also state that Thompson has repeatedly threatened to kill herself, even wanting to commit suicide by cop. In a text message dated June of this year, Thompson wrote, “I don’t care if it’s jail or death.”

Prosecutors said Thompson has repeatedly talked about killing others, including a  May incident when detectives said she threatened to shoot up a social media company in California.

Defense attorney Hamoudi said he is disappointed with Friday’s ruling and will continue to advocate for Thompson. In court, he emphasized that Thompson had no criminal history up until this point.

The judge said Thompson’s mental illness is resulting in erratic behavior that concerns her. Prosecutors say Thompson has a long history of mental illness and a previous drug addiction that consisted of meth, cocaine and mushrooms. The defense said her drug addiction is a thing of the past.

Initially, when Thompson arrived at the detention facility, she was put on suicide watch. Prosecutors say officials have deemed her stable enough at this point to take her off suicide watch.  Friedman told the judge that she is receiving medication and care at the detention center.

The Bureau of Prisons has specific protocols on how they handle transgender inmates.

Those protocols are listed in BOP’s Transgender Offender Manual. Prosecutors say the protocol says biological sex is used to initially decide where an inmate goes. In court, Friedman said BOP makes their decision on where someone is in their transition.

No specific incidents of harm were brought up by the defense, but the issue is an overall health concern.

The defense said Thompson is being forced to tolerate being a man in order to survive.