ATLANTA — A grand jury on Wednesday indicted a Georgia judge, along with a co-founder of DragonCon and two other people, after prosecutors accused them of illegally accessing a courthouse computer network.
The indictment charges Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader, DragonCon co-founder Ed Kramer, T.J. Ward and Frank Karic each with three counts of computer trespass. It says they illegally accessed the Gwinnett County Justice Center computer network in February.
Bonds of $25,000 were set for Karic and Ward and Kramer was denied bond. Schrader was released without bond after being booked into jail Wednesday afternoon, according to online records.
B.J. Bernstein, a lawyer for Schrader, said her client stands “unfairly accused” and plans to “rely on her deep faith, family and her belief in justice to defend herself.”
“She believes in the justice system and knows from her years of experience the presumption of innocence is real and necessary because she’s seen the innocent needing a trial to undo an allegation,” Bernstein added.
A lawyer for Kramer did not immediately respond to requests for comment. It was not immediately clear whether Ward and Karic had attorneys who could comment.
The indictment is scant on details but Stephen Reba, a lawyer representing Kramer in a separate case, described a strange situation in a court filing earlier this year.
Schrader, reportedly believing that Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter had hacked her computer, hired Ward, a private investigator, on Feb. 7 to monitor this suspected activity, Reba wrote. Ward had Karic, one of his forensic specialists, install software on the judge’s computer to collect data.
Karic and Ward were able to log in remotely and collect the data, and Ward had Kramer, who worked for him as a forensic analyst, monitor and analyze the collected data, Reba wrote. Kramer reportedly found “clear signs” that someone had accessed the judge’s computers when her office was closed and without her permission.
Kramer was working on a more detailed analysis for Schrader to bring to federal authorities when he was arrested in late February and accused of photographing a minor without parental consent, which is illegal for sex offenders. Kramer had to register as a sex offender after a 2013 conviction on charges of child molestation.
The charges stemming from Kramer’s February arrest remain pending.
When investigators seized Kramer’s electronics as part of that investigation they discovered files related to the judge on his computer, Porter has said. The district attorney said that was the first he’d heard of Schrader’s suspicions against him and said he turned the case over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and recused himself because he was a potential witness in the case.
The Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of Georgia is handling the prosecution.
Kramer co-founded Dragon Con, a popular sci-fi, fantasy and gaming convention held over Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, in 1987. He hasn’t been involved in the event since he was arrested in August 2000 on charges of molesting teenage brothers.
Kate Brumback, The Associated Press