Former Cal State Student Gets Year in Prison for Rigging Campus Election

Matthew Weaver voted for himself 630 times in student elections.

ByABC News
July 16, 2013, 4:45 PM

July 17, 2013 — -- A former student was sentenced to a year in prison for rigging his school elections at California State University-San Marcos so he could become student president, court documents show.

Matthew Weaver, 22, was charged in January with wire fraud, access device fraud and unauthorized access to a computer. He pleaded guilty in March, admitting that he had stolen the email passwords of more than 740 students and used them to vote for himself 630 times during the student elections in March 2012.

Weaver of Huntington Beach apologized at his sentencing Monday, according to U-T San Diego, saying his behavior was "childish, foolish and arrogant."

He also said he "learned a very hard lesson," the newspaper reported.

Weaver's attorney could not be reached for comment.

Cal State-San Marcos officials declined to comment on the case or the sentencing.

In rejecting Weaver's request for probation, an irritated Judge Larry Burns said, "That's the phenomenal misjudgment I can't get around," according to U-T San Diego.

The complaint, filed by the U.S. District Attorney's Office in the U.S. District Court, maintained that Weaver had proposed that he and four of his fraternity brothers run for the positions of campus president and vice president, and illegally obtained student votes to ensure victory.

To illegally obtain these votes, Weaver accessed students' passwords using keyloggers, electronic storage devices that can record a computer user's keystroke without the user's knowledge. He used these passwords to hack into the electronic voting system and cast votes for himself.

The campus president receives a stipend of $8,000 and vice presidents receive $7,000, according to the complaint.Weaver sought information about the salaries of student officers in the summer of 2011, the court documents state.

During the voting process in March 2012, university officials noticed that more than 150 votes were cast from the same IP address, which was later revealed to be Weaver's address.

Right before the voting ended, on March 15, 2012, officials noticed 259 votes coming from another IP address. Officials tracked the IP address to a classroom, and found Weaver sitting there. There was only one other student in the lab, according to court documents.

A university police officer arrested Weaver and seized his bag, subsequently discovering that he had stashed the keyloggers there.

Weaver subsequently claimed he had been falsely accused of rigging the election and tried to b lame other students, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office

In a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said, "If privacy is to mean anything in a digital age, it has to be protected. A 12-month sentence adequately warns men and women like Weaver that they cannot hide from the consequences of their actions behind youth or privilege."