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Man fined $3,000, sentenced to probation over e-mail threats

Author(s): WILLIAM PACK Date: May 29, 1999 Section:


A former LSU computer information systems student was sentenced to three years probation and fined $3,000 Friday for sending anonymous, sexually-charged threats to an LSU coed over the Internet. Jean Michael Pepper, 30, 810 E. Rome St. in Gonzales, apologized to his victim and her family before being sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ralph Tyson, said Tommy Damico, Pepper’s attorney.

Pepper pleaded guilty in February to the interstate communication of threats in what federal prosecutors said was the first time the law had been used in the Baton Rouge-based Middle District against electronically transmitted threats.

Authorities said the crime included the theft of two “sexually explicit” messages from the woman’s university e-mail account.

Pepper sent the messages to the woman’s family and friends through his anonymous e-mail account and sent the woman an anonymous e-mail in October describing sexual acts he wanted to perform with her, investigators have said.

Pepper also demanded nude photos of the woman to keep the stolen messages, which the woman had sent to her boyfriend, out of the hands of her professors, investigators said.

Damico said Pepper apparently was motivated by his infatuation with the woman. Pepper felt the anonymous threats would draw them closer together as friends, his attorney said.

Damico said even though Pepper was a graduate student in computer information systems, he did not get into the woman’s e-mail account through expertise with computers. Pepper got the account number by looking over her shoulder as she registered it by phone, Damico said.

“He was in the right place at the right time,” said Damico.

Damico said that fact kept the charge from being enhanced and may have played a part in Tyson’s decision against limiting Pepper’s access to computers while he is on probation.

Pepper, who works for a computer firm, has no prior criminal convictions, his attorney said. He was suspended from LSD after his arrest in November.

Copyright 1999 Capital City Press, Baton Rouge, La.