Wichita attorney Brad Pistotnik pleads guilty in cyberattack case

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Wichita attorney Brad Pistotnik leaves the federal courthouse in Wichita following his first appearance on August 1, 2018 (KAKE) Wichita attorney Brad Pistotnik leaves the federal courthouse in Wichita following his first appearance on August 1, 2018 (KAKE)
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Well-known Wichita attorney Brad Pistotnik has admitted to paying a software engineer who launched cyberattacks on websites that criticized the attorney's work.

Pistotnik was originally charged last year with computer fraud, conspiracy and making false statements to the FBI. He appeared in federal court Tuesday and pleaded guilty to three counts of being an accessory after the fact to making an extortionate threat over the internet. 

He was given a $375,000 fine and was ordered to pay $55,200 in restitution.  "This was an unfortunate thing, he got involved with a person that was a bad character," said Pistotnik's lawyer Mark Schoenhofer.  "Brad has learned from this and Brad will move on."

In his plea, the 63-year-old attorney admitted he was contacted by attorneys from the legal firm Jaburg Wilk and Ripoff Report regarding cyberattacks launched against Ripoff Report, Jaburg Wilk and Leagle. He falsely denied knowing anything about the attacks.

The U.S. attorney's office says Pistotnik knew software engineer David Dorsett had initiated a flood of emails against the servers used by Leagle, RipoffReport and Jaburg Wilk. Dorsett had met previously with Pistonik offering web design and reputation management services.

Dorsett sent emails demanding the removal of information that reflected badly on Pistotnik from their web sites. In one of the threatening emails, Dorsett said, “… if you don’t remove it we will begin targeting your advertisers…”

"I feel bad about what’s taken place. I made a mistake," Pistotnik said in court Tuesday. "I feel horrible about it and it won’t happen again. I’m trying to take responsibility."

Dorsett, co-founder of VIRAL Artificial Intelligence, has a change-of-plea hearing set for Monday.

Professionally, Pistotnik faces a disciplinary procedure in Topeka.  A disciplinary board is expected to make its decision in the next six to twelve months.  

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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