Patrick Ricciardi, 45, is charged in a federal criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday with one count each of accessing a computer without authorization, interception of wire and electronic communications, and disclosure of intercepted wire and electronic communications. Each count carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Ricciardi, who worked as the chief information technology officer for the mayor's office, was responsible for running the city's network and had access to email accounts, the U.S. attorney's office in New Jersey said in a news release Wednesday. He allegedly abused his access to spy on official emails meant for Zimmer, and shared them with others.
According to the complaint, Ricciardi spied on the mayor's email to determine if his job was secure and forwarded certain messages to other individuals, at their request.
He was caught after mayor's office employees in April became suspicious that information contained in private emails was being leaked to outside parties, prosecutors said. The city hired a private security consultant to investigate, and he discovered an email archive file on the hard drive of Ricciardi's work computer.
The archive had been set up so that all messages sent to the mayor, as well as other city employees, were automatically downloaded into the file, prosecutors said. Ricciardi then forwarded some of the emails to other municipal employees.