HOLLIDAYSBURG - A Claysburg man accused of sending email threats from the Blair County Prison will stand trial.
Prosecutors called 10 witnesses Tuesday during a two-hour preliminary hearing for Adam C. Hardin, 23, a farmhand facing more than a dozen felony and misdemeanor charges after allegedly hacking a prison computer in late October to send bomb and water contamination threats to local news outlets.
Those threats led to the evacuation of the Blair County Courthouse and the surrounding neighborhood Oct. 23, followed by an Oct. 25 threat to Hollidaysburg's water supply that led to a water advisory, forcing some businesses to shut down for the weekend.
Before the hearing, District Attorney Richard Consiglio sought the addition of a misdemeanor tampering with a public system charge, and Magisterial District Judge Paula Aigner found prosecutors had enough evidence to send that count and 13 other charges, including felony bomb threats and unlawful use of a computer, to Blair County Court.
Consiglio meticulously questioned witnesses to connect the dots between the threats and Hardin, who was an inmate at the jail when the emails were sent out. Key testimony pointing to Hardin as the man behind the threats came from a state police computer crimes investigator who found evidence on a prison's law library computer and two inmates who said Hardin bragged about sending the threats, both before and after they were emailed to the Mirror and WTAJ.
State Trooper Todd Roby told Aigner he was certain the emails were sent from one of the two law library computers and said he was able to recover the complete water threat from Computer No. 1 and trace evidence of the earlier bomb threat.
Roby said whoever used the law library computer to send out the threats did so under a user profile Hardin allegedly created and named "The Gate Keeper." When Greenfield Township police arrested Hardin in August on theft-related charges - the reason Hardin was in jail when the threats were made last month - that user name was found on a stolen computer recovered at Hardin's Claysburg home, Greenfield Township police Officer Andrew Campbell testified.
Hollidaysburg Patrolman Henry T. Fownes testified the handle was also one Fort Indiantown Gap police said Hardin bragged about when he was questioned there in regard to stolen military equipment that included a Humvee. Fownes said Hardin told police there that he had used "The Gate Keeper" as a hacker name since he was 14, but when Fownes questioned him after the threats, Hardin claimed to have just average knowledge of a computer.
Fownes said information from the Pennsylvania National Guard indicated Hardin had nearly 800 hours of computer training.
Fownes said police were also able to link Hardin to the crimes through the email address used to send
the bomb threat, unknown at atlanticbb.net. Fownes said information from Atlantic Broadband showed that email was one of five created under a now inactive account, one that belonged to Hardin's former foster mother. One email was ahardin at atlanticbb.net, Fownes said.