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Feds charge Cleveland Public Power employee who is accused of installing keyloggers on CPP computers

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A Cleveland Public Power employee has been accused of trying to extract information from utility computers and lying to the FBI.

John Pelton, the utility’s chief electric transmission operator, has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Cleveland for attempting to access a protected computer and obtaining information and lying to investigators.

Pelton, 54, of Avon Lake, was indicted on a bill of information, meaning he waived his rights to have the grand jury hear the case. That usually happens when a person accused of a crime seeks to plead guilty to the charges.

Cleveland Public Power spokeswoman Shelly Shockley declined to say if Pelton was still an employee or to answer any questions about the incident.

City spokeswomen Sarah Johnson and Marie Zickefoose did not respond to questions about the circumstances of the incident or the state of Pelton’s work.

Pelton’s attorney Michael Goldberg said in an email that Pelton did no harm to anyone and blamed his actions.

“Mr. Pelton put a device in a computer so he could save time and effort doing his job, ”Goldberg said. “Not to interfere with service, not for profit or gain or any mistake [purpose]. ”

Pelton in early 2021 purchased two keyloggers, devices that secretly record every time someone hits a button on a particular computer, according to court records. Tools are often used to record people who type in usernames and passwords.

Pelton installed keyloggers on two CPP computers, court records say. No other information was released immediately, including whether Pelton stole any information.

U.S. attorney’s office spokesman Dan Ball said prosecutors had made an agreement to request the case and could not release further information.

Pelton was hired by the city in 2017 and earns nearly $ 91,000 per year, according to city records.

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