Palin Hacker Pleads Not Guilty, Gets Trial Date

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If convicted of the charge, Kernell, the son of Democratic state Representative Mike Kernell, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a three- year term of supervised release.

The date of the trial has been set for Dec. 16.

After pleading not guilty to the charge before U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley, Kernell was released on his own recognizance, with the conditions that he use his computer only for computer school purposes, has no contact with Palin or her family and does not leave eastern Tennessee without written permission from his probation officer.

The Justice Department and U.S. Attorney James R. Dedrick in Knoxville, Tenn., emphasized that an indictment is only an allegation and not a conviction.

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The case is being prosecuted by Section Chief Michael DuBose and Trial Attorney Mark Krotoski of the Criminal Division's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Weddle of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

The indictment accuses Kernell of gaining unauthorized access to Palin's Yahoo e-mail account by resetting the password using Yahoo's password recovery tool. The court papers allege that Kernell reset Palin's password to "popcorn" by researching and correctly answering a series of personal security questions.