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A Canadian teen-age computer hacker accused of crippling several major Internet sites including CNN, Yahoo and Amazon.com, pleaded guilty on Thursday to 56 charges of mischief. The trial of the 16-year-old Montrealer known as “Mafiaboy” had been set to begin Thursday on 66 charges relating to attacks last year on major Web sites as well as security breaches of sites at institutions such as Yale and Harvard universities. The court had just convened when prosecutor Louis Miville-Deschenes announced that the youth had pleaded guilty to most of the charges. The youth, who cannot be identified under Canadian law, sat in silence while his attorney, Yan Romanowski, changed his plea on most of the charges. The plea avoids a trial that was expected to last three to six months. The other charges were withdrawn. The teen-ager, who dropped out of high school after he was charged, was freed pending sentencing. In the meantime, he must stay away from computers, observe a 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily curfew, and show up at his restaurant job. The judge of Quebec youth court set April 17 and 18 for pre-sentence arguments on the penalty. The youngster faces a possible sentence of up to two years in juvenile detention. The prosecutor, Miville-Deschenes, told reporters that wiretapped phone conversations and computer intercepts proved Mafiaboy’s role “beyond a reasonable doubt.” “He bragged that the FBI was not even closing in and would never arrest him. He made it clear through his own conversations that he was responsible for the attacks,” the prosecutor said. The teen-ager was first arrested on two mischief charges last April after someone calling himself Mafiaboy crippled CNN’s Web site last February. Ten counts of mischief related to “denial-of-service” attacks on the Web sites, including those run by Yahoo! Inc., Amazon.com Inc., eBay Inc., and Dell Computer Corp. The sites were bombarded with thousands of simultaneous messages, which prevented legitimate users from accessing them. The remaining charges dealt with hacking into computers, many of them located at U.S. universities. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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