Reality Bytes

The White House-cracking cybergang is gone. Now Houstonís most notorious hacker hopes to reboot his life and return to his love: computers.

Agencies came into their own embarrassment at the break-ins. During a Milwaukee court session, Chief U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller ridiculed the army for failing to "do its homework" to safeguard against attacks. "It's not only disturbing, it's galling," he said.

Even the U.S. attorney prosecuting the case called the army "less than diligent," saying computer personnel "basically left the doors unlocked over the weekend."

Gregory says that what he and Mindphasr had in mind all along for Global Hell was not racketeering but pointing out vulnerabilities as a sort of public service.

"If you tell somebody -- especially the army -- 'Somebody can break into your system through this door that everybody knows about; are you gonna fix it?' " he explains. "And if somebody finally comes through that door, why should you punish that person that came through that door?"

Punishment wasn't problematic for the authorities, however. Not when Global Hell had wreaked damage estimated at between $1.5 million and $2.5 million.

Out of all the group's crackers, Gregory got hit the hardest. It was the price of being the leader, and of not being a juvenile. Basically, he was going to take the fall for everything -- after all, he gave out the PINs that led to the conferences that led to some of the worst cracking up until that point. Plus he had a record -- he had already served time for assault and marijuana possession.

Worse yet, Gregory certainly didn't radiate remorse at the computerized carnage -- or other criminal acts, for that matter.

Ten days before he was supposed to drive to Dallas to plead guilty to telecommunications fraud and cracking, he was arrested in Houston for breaking into a house and stealing a car. He says he didn't do it; his mother says he did. While the judge, Gregory's public defender, and a prosecutor waited for him in Dallas, Gregory was locked up in Harris County. (Gregory's public defender, Carlton McClarty, said he could not be interviewed for this story without Gregory's consent, which Gregory never gave.)

When he got out of that jail, Gregory finally made it to Dallas, pleaded guilty and served 18 months in a medium-security prison. He's also been ordered to pay $155,000 in restitution. His biggest punishment went beyond all that: The judge banned him from computers for four years.

His prison term came and went without incident. Gregory played basketball, read his computer magazines, wrote his mom and helped other inmates with assorted entrepreneurial business plans. He reveled in the rerun of a 20/20 segment on his exploits -- Gregory became a minor celebrity as other inmates watched him in the TV room.

Even his own mother seemed to accept his crimes as those of a mischievous child. "He can be a brat, trust me," she told a television interviewer. "I've been with him for 19 years."

Gregory himself came to condemn the coverage. He lashed out at prosecutors' descriptions of him running a criminal gang. "I don't appreciate his slanderous terms," he says. "That's where a lot of hearsay gets started, and that's where shit gets started, period."

He says it's that coloring of his character that made his story more compelling, which consequently turned him off of the media. Reporters, he contends, just perpetuated the Mosthated myth, never understanding why he did what he did. But no matter what he does, he says, he will always carry that persona.

"Me on paper will never be looked at by anybody that reads it in a positive attitude, because there's really nothing positive about me," he says. "I'm a solo person, and I really don't care about people around me besides my family. The only person I have is my mom.

"On paper, I just be, 'Well, this person that really don't give a shit, he don't like police officers, all he does is get into trouble, he's got drugs on his record, he broke into the White House, and now all he does is work like a wetback.' You know? On paper, there's really nothing that can come out of it."

Gregory says he matured in prison, but he's been in trouble since his release.

He's been fired from two jobs -- one at Wal-Mart, the other working on railroad cars at the port of Houston -- and has been jailed twice for marijuana possession. Trial is pending in one of those cases.

He insists that he had already quit cracking and started a legitimate computer security business when the FBI raided his home. Before the Global Hell busts, a software client in Austin had paid him $25 an hour just to sit there and guard the system, he says.

The young man so comfortable with computer codes still has trouble with personal relationships, it appears. Just before the FBI raid, he found out his 16-year-old girlfriend was pregnant, and he needed money. The couple broke up after she aborted the baby behind his back, he says.

He's also impregnated an 18-year-old who already has one child. Gregory never admitted he is the father, but he waived his parental rights in order to put the child up for adoption after the birth, which is expected in late May.

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