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Paramedic hacker faces years in prison

A 39-year-old Whidbey General Hospital paramedic who used hospital computers to hack into his ex-girlfriend’s computer dating account and email may be facing more than four years in prison.

A jury found Tracy Adams guilty of 10 felony counts of computer trespass in the first degree after a week-long trial in Island County Superior Court. The jury hung on two counts of residential burglary and an eleventh count of computer trespass, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial on the deadlocked counts.

Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks, who tried the case, said much of the testimony involved complicated computer evidence and analysis. Detective Ed Wallace, the computer forensic expert for the Island County Sheriff’s Office, investigated the case. Banks said the case relied on the strength of Wallace’s work.

“Detective Wallace did a great job and was able to explain everything in simple terms to the jury,” Banks said.

Adams’ attorney did not return a call for comment.

According to Banks, Adams used computers at three ambulance quarters, his own laptop and his girlfriend’s computer in Bellingham to illegally access his ex-girlfriend’s email and computer dating accounts. He deleted emails, put people on a blocked senders list and changed passwords.

Adams took the stand and admitted that he accessed the woman’s accounts, but claimed he only read email messages that had already been read, according to Banks. To prove computer trespass, Banks had to prove that Adams accessed emails with the intent of committing another crime — specifically, committing malicious mischief by altering electronic data.

“It involved a lot of harassing and stalking behavior,” he said.

The prosecutor hasn’t decided yet whether he’ll retry Adams on the deadlocked counts. For one of the burglary counts, Adams’ girlfriend provided an alibi. In the other, Adams said he took an engagement ring from the victim’s house while they were still dating and he had permission to enter her home, Banks explained.

A sentencing hearing hasn’t been set. Adams is facing a standard sentencing range of three years and seven months to four years and nine months in prison. But Banks said Adams may qualify for a first-time offender’s waiver, which would mean a sentence of zero to 90 days in jail.

“There’s nothing in between,” the prosecutor said.

While Banks said he will argue against the waiver, it will ultimately be up to Judge Alan Hancock to decide.

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