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US: Hacker faces 38 years in jail for fudging school grades

June 19, 2008 17:08 IST

A teenager of South Asian descent in the US is facing 38 years in prison for repeatedly breaking into his high school and hacking computers to change his grades and steal tests along with his friend.

Omar Khan, 18, is being held in jail in lieu of $50,000 bail after he was accused of 69 counts and could face more than 38 years in prison, if convicted.

Another student, Tanvir Singh, also 18, is accused of five counts and could face up to three years in prison.

Singh was released after appearing before a judge in Newport Beach. Singh's arraignment was postponed until July 8. The two belong to Tesoro High School, the wealthy southern Orange County school in California which regularly earns a spot on Newsweek's list of best American high schools.

The investigation is continuing, and additional charges could be filed or additional students could be involved, said Jim Amormino, spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department was quoted as saying by Los Angeles Times.

He said the crimes were unusual for Orange County, and fairly sophisticated, considering the suspects' ages.

"I think they wish they would have put their talents into studying," Amormino said. Carol Lavacot, the attorney for Khan, described him as a "really nice kid. He's only 18 years old."

"It's just a very sad situation all the way around.... There's a lot more going on than meets the eye at this point, with a lot of kids," she said. Authorities claim Khan broke into the school using a stolen master key at least six times at night and on weekends between January and May.

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