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“I WANTED TO SEE HOW FAR IT COULD GO”

Since Wheeler was a juvenile when the majority of the hacking occurred, the US decided to leave his prosecution into the Australian authorities. After being given 48 hours to turn in his passport, Wheeler drove right to the airport and absconded to the Czech Republic, his mother’s native land. The Australians imprisoned his mommy for helping his escape, presumably to pressure him into returning home to face justice. (She has since been released.) But Wheeler elected to remain a fugitive, drifting through Europe on an EU passport before finally settling in the UK. During his travels he strove to crowdfund the purchase of a $500,000 Ferrari, describing that his doctor said he wanted the car to deal with the anxiety due to his legal travails. (The effort did not succeed.) When he learned of Clark’s death, Pokora briefly felt revived bitterness toward Alcala, who had been instrumental to the government’s case against his buddy. But he let the anger pass. He could not even work up much bitterness against Justin May, whom he and many others are sure was that the Delaware-based FBI informant recognized as Individual A at the Xbox Underground indictment. (“Can’t comment on that, sorry,” May responded when asked whether he had been Individual A. He’s now being prosecuted in the federal district of eastern Pennsylvania for defrauding Cisco and Microsoft from tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of hardware) Pokora knows he will forever be persona non grata in the gambling industry, so he’s been searching elsewhere for fulltime employment since finishing the classwork for his computer science degree last June. But he’s had a tough time putting together a portfolio of his best work: At the behest of the FBI, Canadian police seized all of the computers he’d owned prior to his arrest, and the majority of the software he had generated during his Xbox heyday was dropped forever. They did let him maintain his 2013 Volkswagen Golf, but the car he adores so much that he was willing to drive to Delaware for a bumper. He retains it parked at his parents’ house in Mississauga, the place where he played his first game at the age of 2, and where he’s lived ever since leaving jail. THE MEMBERS OF the Xbox Underground have readjusted to civilian life with varying levels of success. The 20-year-old brought his girlfriend into his April 2016 sentencing hearing–“my first real girlfriend”–also spoke about a talk he had given at an FBI convention on infrastructure protection. Pokora, who is now 26, was disoriented during his first months back in Canada. But he collaborated with his girlfriend, whom he had begged to leave him while he was behind bars, and he reenrolled at the University of Toronto. He scraped together the tuition by taking on freelance projects programming user-interface automation instruments; his fiscal struggles made him nostalgic for days when he had been rolling in Call of Duty money.
Nesheiwat, that was 28 at the time of his arrest, did not fare as well as his younger coworkers. He struggled with addiction and was rearrested last December for violating his probation by using cocaine and opiates; his probation officer stated he’d”admitted to doing up to 50 bags of heroin daily” before his latest stint in rehab. Pokora still struggles to comprehend how his love for programming warped to an obsession that knocked his moral compass so far askew. “As far as I purposely made the choices I did, I never intended for it to get as bad as it did,” he says. “I meanI wanted access to firms to read some source code, I wished to learn, I wanted to see just how far it may go–that was it. It was really just intellectual fascination. I didn’t want money–if I wanted money, I would’ve taken all of the cash that has been there. However, I mean, I do itwhat it turned into, it is regrettable.” Leroux’s coworkers at Human Head Studios sent letters to the court on his behalf, commending his intelligence and kindness. “He has a very promising game development career ahead of him, and that I would not believe he’d ever again risk throwing that away,” one supporter wrote. On his release from prison, Leroux returned to Madison to rejoin the company. “I never intended for it to get as bad as it did,” Pokora states.

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