The son of a Democratic Tennessee state lawmaker pleaded not guilty Wednesday to hacking the personal e-mail account of Gov. Sarah Palin.
David Kernell, 20, who is a student at the University of Tennessee, turned himself in this morning according to a prepared statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Knoxville, according to the Chattanooga Times/Free Press.
Kernell was released without posting bond, but the court limited his computer use to checking his own e-mail and doing class work.
The one-count indictment, which was unsealed today and delivered by a Knoxville grand jury late Tuesday, alleges that on approximately Sept. 16, Mr. Kernell illegally accessed Palin’s Yahoo e-mail account by resetting the password.
A Chattanooga grand jury heard evidence in the case two weeks ago, but did not indict Mr. Kernell at that time.
If convicted of the charge, Kernell could face a five-year prison term and a fine of up to $250,000. His trial is set for Dec. 16.
Kernell’s father is Rep. Mike Kernell of Memphis, chairman of Tennessee’s House Government Operations Committee. The lawmaker has said he had nothing to do with the hacking incident.
Deborah Creighton Skinner is the editorial director of BlackEnterprise.com.