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Phoenix Man Accused Of Hacking Emails May Be Headed For Plea Bargain

A 29-year-old Phoenix man accused of hacking into more than a thousand university email accounts may be headed for a plea bargain.

Court documents show a judge recently gave attorneys 30 more days to continue “discussion concerning a possible disposition of this case.”

Jonathan Powell was arrested in November on suspicion of computer fraud. Federal investigators wrote in court documents that Powell spent almost a year trying to hack into about 19,000 email accounts at universities in New York and Pennsylvania.

Powell stands accused of using password reset pages to access about 1,000 student accounts. The resets were protected by security questions, but records say Powell scoured the web for biographical information of account owners.

Powell also allegedly used email access to break into student social-media accounts like Facebook. Court records say he searched for sexually explicit images and kept a spreadsheet of a sorority chapter’s members at one of the universities.

Powell is due back in court in January.

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.