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Russian gets 12 years in US prison for role in hacking scheme

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – A Russian citizen was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Wednesday for his role in a computer hacking scheme that compromised more than 160 million credit card numbers and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

Vladimir Drinkman, 37, was sentenced by before U.S. District Judge Jerome Simandle in Camden, New Jersey federal court, according to U.S. prosecutors.

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Drinkman was arrested in the Netherlands in June 2012 and extradited to the United States in February 2015. He pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to illegally access computers and conspiring to commit wire fraud in September 2015.

Another Russian man who was arrested along with Drinkman, Dmitriy Smilianets, was sentenced by Simandle on Wednesday to time served. Smilianets, 34, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud in September 2015.

Lawyers for Drinkman and Smilianets could not immediately be reached for comment.

Prosecutors said the two men were part of a hacking scheme as far back as 2003 in which they helped install “sniffers” designed to comb through and steal data from computer networks of financial companies, payment processors and retailers.

Prosecutors said the defendants then used an array of computers to store and ultimately sell data they collected, fetching $10 to $50 apiece for credit card numbers depending on country of origin.

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The scheme ultimately caused banks and credit card companies to suffer hundreds of millions in losses, including more than $300 million reported by three companies alone, prosecutors said.

Sixteen companies’ networks were infiltrated, including those of Nasdaq OMX Group Inc, 7-Eleven [SILC.UL], France’s Carrefour SA, JC Penney Co, JetBlue Airways Corp and Heartland Payment Systems Inc, according to prosecutors.

Drinkman was originally charged as an unnamed defendant in a 2009 indictment accusing Albert Gonzalez of Miami over his involvement in five corporate data breaches. Gonzalez is serving a 20-year federal prison term.

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By Brendan Pierson

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York, editing by G Crosse)

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Trump forced to pay up after his charity is exposed as a sham

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Donald Trump on Tuesday paid $2 million in damages as part of a settlement over use of his former charity to further his political and business interests -- the latest item on the US president's list of legal woes.

Trump had been accused of using foundation funds to settle lawsuits, promote his Trump-branded hotels, and for personal spending, including the purchase of a portrait of himself to display at one of his golf clubs.

The $2 million was paid equally to eight different charities, including the Children's Aid Society, the United Negro College Fund and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, according to a statement from New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat.

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Group of vulnerable House Democrats are trying to censure – and not impeach – Trump

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Despite all the likely illegal acts President Donald Trump has committed, despite the high crimes and misdemeanors he is being charged with – a list that in reality could have been exponentially larger – a small group of vulnerable House Democrats is actually trying to block the impeachment of this president and instead vote to censure him.

Calling it a “longshot idea,” Politico reports nearly all of the small group of Democrats serve in districts won by Trump in 2016. They are willing to do the wrong thing to keep their seats.

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GOP scrambles to save it’s only Latina congresswoman as she heads towards a ‘fatal collision’ with Trump’s tribal politics

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Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) is female, Hispanic, and a rare sight when it comes to Republicans on the West Coast, who have seen their female ranks in the House cut in half since 2011. As she prepares to run for reelection, the fact that she doesn't represent the typical GOP ideals in 2019 creates challenges in and of themselves. But as a report from POLITICO this Wednesday points out, Republicans are committed to protecting her.

"But as the daily war machine hits overdrive with the impeachment proceedings, Herrera Beutler is wary of what message she is expected to deliver," POLITICO's Rishika Dugyala and Melanie Zanonaes write. "Yes, she voted against the impeachment inquiry in October, but she is far from an unquestioning supporter of President Donald Trump. In fact, she is open about the fact she wrote in former House Speaker Paul Ryan's name on her ballot in 2016. And yes, she subscribes to the party’s beliefs on Obamacare repeal and a barrier on the southern border. But she voted against the GOP’s health care bill to replace much of Obamacare, which would have left millions uncovered. And she was one of 13 Republicans who rebuked Trump for his national wall emergency, saying it set a 'dangerous' precedent to circumvent Congress. Matt Gaetz, she is not."

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