Los Angeles city employees charged with hacking traffic lights over labor dispute

Two Los Angeles municipal traffic engineers were arraigned and charged with hacking city systems to disable traffic lights, all in connection with a labor dispute.

The two men, Gabriel Murillo and Kartik Patel, were charged by the Los Angeles district attorney's newly-formed High Technology Crimes Division. The district attorney alleged that the men illegally accessed the city's Automated Traffic Surveillance Center last August and disconnected four signal control boxes at key intersections.

Murillo allegedly accessed the system and found a way to block other managers from fixing the changes. Prosecutors reported it took four days to repait the signals.

According to the DA's office, the disruption occurred hours before a job action by members of the Engineers and Architects Association, a union representing employees, such as Murillo and Patel, that run the city's traffic center.

"This amounts to sabotage and is not to be tolerated no matter what the dispute or cause," Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley said.

Click here to email West Coast Bureau Chief Ericka Chickowski.

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