A succession of “foolish” clicks on a keyboard four years ago has landed a 66-year-old rock musician in jail. Geoffrey “Jake” Commander, a guitarist with ties to Jeff Lynne and Electric Light Orchestra, was sentenced to ten days in jail last week at U.S. District Court in Virginia for participating in an Anonymous attack on MasterCard’s website.
The Washington Times reports that on Dec. 10, 2010, Commander was at home in New Hampshire when he entered a chat room for the Anonymous hacker group. In what he told the court was a “protest” against banks which had “brought the country to its knees,” Commander found himself joining a thousand others in flooding the credit card company’s site with traffic, resulting in a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS).
Commander said he later regretted his “impulsive, spurious and foolish” decision to click on the links, which cost MasterCard over $1 million. The MasterCard attack was part of a larger, months-spanning action by Anonymous called “Operation Payback.” His attorney said about 2,000 people took part in the operation.
A couple years after the attacks, Commander and his family left New Hampshire and moved back to his native England. Last fall, the guitarist traveled back to the U.S., where he was arrested, charged and released until his trial date. Commander was one of only 13 people charged.
At sentencing, Commander said he was “mortified to have upset the government of this country, which has been my host for many years.” His lawyer said that upon his release early next week, he will leave the country and never return.
Commander replaced Lynne as guitarist in the rock legend’s early band, Andicaps, later becoming a tech roadie and occasional background vocalist on several ELO tours, according to the bio for another former band of his, The Traveling Pilburys. He also sang a bit on Lynne’s 1990 solo album Armchair Theatre.