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Stephen Heller: Modern-Day American Hero

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Stephen Heller Agrees to Plead Guilty, Pay $10,000, Apologize and Receive
Three Years Probation After Being Charged with 'Burglary' for Sharing Diebold
Lawfirms Attorney-Client Privileged Documents with Newspaper, Election
Integrity Activists

Tells BRAD BLOG He Has 'No Assets Left, Other Than House' and Deal is Meant
to Protect Him and His Wife as 'Best Deal I Could Get Based on the

Stephen Heller, the Los Angeles whistleblower who turned over documents from
Diebold's attorney, Jones-Day, in 2004 showing the Voting Machine Company
had illegally installed uncertified hardware and software in California -- and
was preparing to lie about it -- has pled guilty according to a statement
tonight from the LA County District Attorney's office.

In an email moments ago from Heller, he tells us that he and his wife "are
very happy it is over."

Heller, whose story we wrote about in _an article [PDF]_ published by Hustler
some months ago,
was working as a temp worker at the voting machine company law firm when he
came across the troubling documents.

At the time, we quoted Michael Kohn, general counsel for the National
Whistleblower Center as saying "This is a very rare instance. In fact, the only
of which I'm aware, in which a whistleblower has been charged with a felony.
I find it outrageous."

Outrageous indeed - Especially considering Diebold voting systems were
decertified by the state when it was found the company was attempting to game
certification process shortly after Heller shared the documents with the
Oakland Tribune and election watchdog _BlackBoxVoting.org_ .

But Heller doesn't have the same kind of money for high-priced attorneys
that Diebold does (that would be your money that Diebold gets to use for this
sort of thing, by the way), we're not suprised he opted for the deal.

In an email message from Heller sent to _The BRAD BLOG_ tonight, he wrote:

"My wife and I are very happy it is over. The deal will protect me and my
wife and our assets (we have no assets left, other than our house, but whatever
we are able to accumulate in the future cannot be taken away from us in
civil court). My attorneys and I think this is the best deal I could get based
the circumstances."

The LA County DA's statement says Heller pled to "unlawfully accessing the
company computer in connection with its legal representation of Diebold Inc."
and they quote his formal "apology" as follows:

"Today, I pled guilty to unlawfully taking Jones Day's privileged documents
without its permission while I worked there. There was no excuse for my
conduct. I very much regret taking the documents. I also regret any disparaging
statements suggesting that Jones Day committed any wrongful acts. Upon
reflection, I now believe and understand that such statements were unjustified.
apologize to Jones Day and its client."

A notice added tonight to the _Stephen Heller Defense Fund website_ says "The case has been resolved! More
details will follow soon." It goes on to thank supporters, urging them to
back soon because Stephen is going to post the entire story here soon."

Heller tells us he's being contacted by the media tonight and plans to send
a more detailed statement to _The BRAD BLOG_ by

URL: _

Brad Friedman
THE BRAD BLOG - The uprising continues...
_http://www.BradBlog.com_ (
VELVET REVOLUTION's Election Protection Strike Force!
Of the people, by the people, for the people...



Hello to all my family, friends and supporters. This is Steve Heller, aka
the Diebold Whistleblower. Today, November 20, 2006, my case was resolved in
Los Angeles Superior Court. My wife and I are very happy it is over. The
deal will protect me and my wife and our assets (we have no assets left, other
than our house, but whatever we are able to accumulate in the future cannot
be taken away from us in civil court). My attorneys and I think this is the
best deal I could get based on the circumstances.

Please know this: I am proud of what I did. I was surprised to find within
myself the courage to stand up and risk jail and financial ruin in the name
of American democracy and clean elections. I am proud that I exposed, at
great risk to myself, the criminal activity of Diebold, the company hired to run
our elections. I am now a convicted felon, but my head is held high. I am
a patriot, an American, and a man. No one - not Diebold, not Jones Day, not
the District Attorney - can take that away from me.

Here is the deal:

I plead guilty to one felony count of Unauthorized Access to a Computer. I
paid a restitution fee of $10,000 (ten thousand) to the Jones Day law firm
and signed an apology to the firm and its client. The felony is what my
attorneys call a "felony wobbler" which means that in one year, if I stay out
trouble (and believe me, I'll be staying WAY out of trouble!), the felony will
be reduced to a misdemeanor. Then, my attorneys will petition the court to
have the misdemeanor expunged from my record. My attorneys have told me that
if I stay out of trouble during the coming year, the reduction from felony to
misdemeanor will be automatic, and getting the misdemeanor expunged will
only be a matter of filing the proper documents with the court. Once the
misdemeanor is expunged, I will have no criminal record, and if anyone should
run a
background check on me it would come back clean with no arrests and no
convictions. There is no jail time, no community service, and I am on informal
probation, meaning I don't have to report to a probation officer or jump
through any other hoops.

In exchange for this, Jones Day has signed a release that prevents them from
suing me in civil court. Thus, any assets which Michele and I are able to
accumulate will be protected from Jones Day. Also, there is no agreement of
confidentiality, so I am free to talk about this case, write about it, even
sell my story should someone here in Hollywood be interested in buying the
rights to it (and there has been some interest expressed in that regard). And
talk about it and write about it I shall! I am writing down the entire story
and will post that on the defense fund website in a few days.

Regarding the defense fund: naturally we are no longer accepting donations.
Those who donated in the last couple of weeks will probably be getting their
donations back, once we pay my attorney's final bills. Some donors have
already told me to keep the donations for my personal use, but I won't do that
because the rules of the defense fund are clear:

"If by chance the legal situation is resolved and all costs are paid and
there are still donations in the account, those donations will be returned;
credit/debit card donations would be refunded with a credit to the individual's
card via paypal, and check donations will be returned via check."

So if you donated in the last couple of weeks you'll probably be getting
your donation back. If you'd like to pass your returned donation on to a
cause, please let me recommend in the strongest possible terms that you give
your returned donation to Black Box Voting. Bev Harris, the founder of
Black Box Voting and the recent subject of the HBO documentary "Hacking
Democracy," is the person to whom I gave the documents I stole. It was Bev who
the documents to the Secretary of State, who then decertified Diebold in
California. Bev was also extremely helpful with my legal defense, and her
organization donated $10,000 to my legal defense fund. Most importantly, she
done and is doing great work in t! he area of election security and integrity.
I'd like to see the bread she cast upon the waters come back to her, so
please give generously to Black Box Voting. They're a great organization,
doing important work that protects our votes and our democracy, and they
deserve your help and support. _www.blackboxvoting.com_

Thank you, a thousand million times, for all your support, encouragement,
donations and help. I can never repay the great debt I owe all those who have
stood by me or helped in any way. I am humbled by the help my wife and I
received, often from total strangers. Thank you again.

More details and the entire story of what happened will be posted soon.
I'll send out another email letting you know when the entire story is posted on
the website, probably after Thanksgiving.

Thank you again, my family, my friends, my fellow citizens. Have a happy
Thanksgiving, I know my wife and I will!

Steve Heller
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