BOSTON — An Ayer man agreed to plead guilty in federal court Wednesday after being charged in connection to a cyberattack on a high school’s computer network.
On Wednesday, Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua Levy charged Conor LaHiff, 30, with one count of unauthorized damage to protected computers. Levy charged LaHiff in an Information and he will appear in federal court in Boston at a later date.
According to court documents, LaHiff was employed as a desktop and network manager at an Essex County public high school until he was terminated in June 2023. He allegedly caused significant and deliberate damage to the school’s information technology systems and allegedly caused the phones to shut down a full day.
After being fired from the high school, LaHiff allegedly used his administrative privileges to deactivate and delete thousands of Apple IDs from the school’s Apple School Manager account; an account that the school uses to manage student, faculty and staff information technology resources.
LaHiff also allegedly deactivated more than 1,400 other Apple accounts and other IT administrative accounts and disabled the school’s private branch phone system, which left the school’s phone service unavailable for about 24 hours.
He could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the dollar amount in damage.
The announcement was made Wednesday by Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua Levy and FBI Special Agent in Charge Jodi Cohen, Boston Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mackenzie. Queenin of the Securities, Financial and Cyber Fraud Unit is prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The office of Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua Levy contributed to this report.