CLEVELAND - A former Operator with a Northern Ohio public utility company pleaded guilty to recording the computer keystrokes of coworkers while employed by the utility company.
55-year-old John Pelton of Avon Lake, Ohio, pleaded guilty to attempting to access a secure computer to obtain information and providing false statements to government officials.
According to court records, while working as an operator at a Northern Ohio utility company, Pelton purchased two keylogger devices off of eBay to use them at his job to collect information from his place of employment.
Keylogger devices allow the user to capture information typed into the computer. These devices have enough memory to store around 16 million keystrokes. The devices could be accessed wirelessly with any wi-fi-enabled device like a cell phone, allowing Pelton access to the records anywhere a wi-fi signal could be used.
In January of 2021, Pelton installed the units on two of his employer's computers in a control room that was off only accessible with a key. Court documents said When Pelton installed the devices, it gave him access to the administrator's passwords and would allow him to access features that he otherwise could not access.
The reports say that these Keylogger devices also can turn the power on and off throughout the network. If done incorrectly, an Operator could damage the transmission system, injure employees or even cause damage to the energy grid.
The FBI Interviewed John Pelton in May of 2021, and Pelton said he did not remember purchasing or receiving the devices. Court documents show those are false claims, and Pelton made them knowing they were wrong.
John Pelton will be sentenced on November 16th, 2022.
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