While Mitnick couldn't be reached for comment, Poulsen speaks with a guarded respect about the man who put him behind bars. "It's not personal," he said of Schindler's pursuit of him. "I'm not a big fan of federal prosecutors in general, but what more can you ask for than to only be charged with crimes you actually committed?" he said.
Before Poulsen's capture in Los Angeles, another prosecutor in Northern California had accused Poulsen of espionage and other serious crimes, charges that were later dropped. These days, instead of hacking into secure systems, Poulsen writes for publications including ZDNet, goes dancing, and has taken up origami. Tightly folded paper boxes are placed on shelves throughout his house.
He's also studying the Perl and Java programming languages, and he keeps a coffee mug on his desk that says, 'If I learn any more, I'll be a threat to national security.' (He found the mug at a second-hand store shortly after his release). In turn, Schindler seems to have a reserved admiration for Poulsen's understanding of law enforcement and counter-surveillance techniques, techniques that allowed him to evade capture for a year and a half. "There was certainly a part of it that made you smile," Schindler said. "It was clever, but it was wrong."
Schindler said he's proud of the way Poulsen's turned his life around, but he doesn't have the same hopes for Mitnick, who's still behind bars. "You like to be optimistic, but he's a recidivist," Schindler said. "Every time he's had the opportunity to walk the straight and narrow, he hasn't." Schindler seems on the fence about future prospects for Petersen, who was recently released from jail and reportedly plans to run an Internet porn site. "He certainly has the ability to live a moral life," Schindler said, adding that he hopes Petersen doesn't go back to hacking. "(Hacking) is a waste of his time -- he certainly knows better."
David Schindler can be very much like the hackers he's prosecuted.
He possesses a furious attention to detail and a bulldog-like tenacity that's led him to scribble drafts of indictments in crayon on butcher-block paper while dining with colleagues. "He'd tear off half the table cloth and take it with him," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Isaacs, who worked on the Symington trial with Schindler in Arizona. The pair would often dine at the Macaroni Grill in Scottsdale during that case, and Schindler wouldn't let the case go, even for an hour.
Like hackers who code away late into the night, Schindler finds it hard to pull away from his work. While handling the gruelling Symington investigation, Schindler also wrote versions of the Mitnick indictment. "If Dave has a drawback, it's his difficulty delegating things," Isaacs said. "He will not settle for anything less than he would do himself."
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