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Engineers who hacked into L.A. traffic signal computer, jamming streets, sentenced

Two L.A. traffic engineers who pleaded guilty to hacking into the city's signal system and slowing traffic at key intersections as part of a labor protest have been sentenced to two years' probation.

Authorities said that Gabriel Murillo, 40, and Kartik Patel, 37, hacked into the system in 2006 despite the city's efforts to block access during a labor action.

Fearful that the strikers could wreak havoc, the city temporarily blocked all engineers from access to the computer that controls traffic signals.

But authorities said Patel and Murillo found a way in and picked their targets with care -- intersections they knew would cause significant backups because they were close to freeways and major destinations.

The engineers programmed the signals so that red lights for several days starting Aug. 21, 2006 would be extremely long on the most congested approaches to the intersections, causing gridlock. Cars backed up at Los Angeles International Airport, at a key intersection in Studio City, at access onto the clogged Glendale Freeway and throughout the streets of Little Tokyo and the L.A. Civic Center area, sources told The Times at the time. No accidents occurred as a result.

As part of their plea deal, the engineers agreed to pay $6,250 in restitution and completed 240 hours of community service.

-- Shelby Grad

 
Comments () | Archives (23)

What is the LA City waiting for? Why these 2 engineers have not been fired from their jobs yet?

Agreed, these guys should be fired. Maybe put in jail too! $6250 in restitution?!? Just think of all the man-hours wasted because people were late for work! Not to mention the angst and frustration for folks stuck in the gridlock! Typical selfish union member stunt.

HW

That fine is not high enough. $600,000 each would be more appropriate for such dangerous pranks.

Kartik was rehired in a different section. From everything I heard Gabriel moved on. The la times should mention that one of the two was rehired.

SkepticalOne:
Have they really not been fired? That is so WRONG!

thats punishment enough. people always want to see blood. All they did was make a few red lights longer... Alert the Armed Guard.

they should be fired and used as a punching bag by all the frustrated commuters!!!

They are still employed??? Great government jobs. I love wasting my money on these felons.

They was put in an administrative leave, then shortly got fired. It was done almost right away.

Have they been fired? Please. WE have to fire them!

They should be locked up and throw away the key. Send them to state prison and let's see if they can hacked out of the state prison.

Surprise Surprise...with the Demo's in office this is your result... little fine at everyone else's expense...

Oh my gosh, those poor little babies. How could there be such a cruel and callous world as to offend them so deeply? I really hope they are going to be okay.

Are you kidding me, probabtion? PLA-EASE!
These two idots got mad and decided that the public in general was to blame? And so caused delays for millions of drivers? Let me get this straight, they got probation and $6250 fine? Because they learned their lesson right? Did the judge get blown or just paid off?
In addition to some jail time and a heftier fine, they should be sentenced to public transportation for life.
nitwits.

Both engineers were promoted and are now on 4 week paid vacations

Both Engineers were promoted and are now on 4 weeks paid vacation.

These idiots punished the wrong people. You are not happy with your job, want to protest, etc. but then you take it out on thousands of hard working people, who actually pay the taxes to keep people like you employed?

That is the outrage EZ Rider. They punished the wrong people. You want to take away the 30 minutes I get with my kids every night by the time I get home and they go to sleep? And, I am the tax payer that pays to keep you employed? It is not an over-reaction to want them fired. They should be fired.

Those two engineers are civil terrorist who should be executed for their crimes.


John Pickerton

I agree they should be fired. They abused the public's trust for personal gain. Their actions hindered fire and police response and imposed a substantial loss of productivity on those citizens caught up in their deliberate act. Would be nice to think that their karma was having one of their loved ones who missed planes, appointments or were in an ambulance trying to get to a hospital that day.

Mike S.

WELL I THIK AS LONG AS THEY GOT CAUGHT AND PUNISHED ITS DONE, LIKE SOMEONE SAID WE ALWAYS WANT TO SEE BLOOD. ITS NOT NECESSARY FOR ALL THAT. MAYBE A LIL MORE COMMUNITY SERVICE. BUT THATS ALL, MAYBE NO RAISE FOR SEVERAL YEARS... AND SHOULD BE ON THEIR BEST PERFORMANCE IF NOT SEE YA.

From what I heard, they were placed on administrative leave (yes, it's paid, but it has to be for legal reasons), fired, and then either the Civil Service Commission re-instated them, or there was a settlement bringing them back. This was because their union had a "non-retaliation" clause for "job actions" (Like strikes). Sabotage is not a job action to most rational thinking people, but to the City and its unions, it is. That's why they're both back. Your tax dollars at work, and another reason why the disicplinary process needs to be revised so that it goes to an arbitrator, NOT the civil service commission. The press really should pay attention to the meetings of the civil service commission. They'd get an earful. Some of the more popular bloggers should, as well.

We are creating a generation that demands rights but wants no responsibilities. It's very SCARY!

Umm, I guess I am the only pro-labor person on this topic, but I say THANK YOU, my brothers, for supporting organized labor!

Unions are all we have to fight gigantic corporations who would like to eliminate the middle class and convert them, me, and you, into the working poor, while they reap ridiculous profits that are impossible to imagine.

I appreciate the guts it took to take this stand, but in the end, it will benefit most people on this forum even though they don't get it at the moment.

Solidarity!

During the months of May and June 2010 I noticed that many signal lights around Van Nuys and North Hollywood was changing from green to red eliminating the yellow caution light. Was this due to conserving power?


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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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