This month the trial of Judge Kathryn Schrader has gotten underway in what the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is calling a hacking case. Hacking may not be the most appropriate description of a situation where one simply provides access to a system, nonetheless, Gwinnett County Georgia has indicted one of its own County Judges with a charge of felony computer trespass. The charge stems from an alleged incident in which Schrader hired a private investigator to look into what she felt may have been a conspiracy against her in the county superior court.
The investigation into Schrader’s potential wrongdoing started last year when another individual, Ed Kramer, was arrested on an unrelated charge. Kramer is not a stranger to the Gwinnet County court system, having been indicted with and eventually pleading guilty to three counts of child molestation there in 2013. It was, however, his arrest in 2019 that began Schrader’s legal trouble. After allegedly taking photos of a 7-year-old child without permission, police arrested Kramer and searched his electronic devices for evidence of the covertly taken photos. During this search they also discovered a file bearing Schrader’s name on his computer.
Things unraveled from there with two private investigators and Kramer, their part time computer analyst, also being charged in the matter after it was determined that they may have all been involved in monitoring the County Court network traffic.
Incidents such as documents mysteriously printing in her chambers, apparent access by others in the court to personal files and suspicions that a county prosecutor may have been able to login to her terminal all led her to believe her work computer may have been hacked. When county IT staff’s efforts to remedy these concerns failed to satisfy Judge Schrader, she took it upon herself to hire the private investigator to monitor activity on her work system. The PI installed monitoring software on the county computer and hired Kramer to analyze the monitoring logs. The PIs and Kramer have all reportedly agreed to deals with the prosecutors to avoid trial which include testifying in the case against Schrader. The trial is ongoing and it would seem certain that there will be some interesting digital evidence introduced as the case progresses.
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Digital Forensics/Cybersecurity/Information Technology