Former Weber State University student Joseph Langford pleaded guilty to burglary on Tuesday morning.
The Weber County attorneys charged Langford in connection with a theft and security breach in the WSU College of Science in April. Judge Scott Hadley set the sentencing date for Nov. 10.
Langford entered his plea in Ogden’s 2nd District Court in front of Judge Scott Hadley. Langford was scheduled for a preliminary hearing but by pleading guilty, he waived his right to such a hearing.
Hadley asked Langford if he understood the rights he gave up by pleading guilty. Langford said he did.
Burglary is a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 and up to five years in Utah State Prison.
Langford’s attorney Brian Arnold handed the judge a statement which contained an agreement between Prosecutor Chris Shaw and Langford’s attorneys. The agreement proposed if Langford successfully competes probation, the charge will be reduced.
The judge asked Langford if he understood that even though there is a proposal in place, the judge can still choose to accept or reject it.
According to a report from the Weber State Police Department, Langford was seen on security footage picking a lock and photographing tests from a filing cabinet. Police say Langford placed a device on computers in the science lab building in order to obtain the login and password information of students and faculty.
Langford used the passwords to get into one professor’s Amazon.com account and make purchases, according to police records. Information from almost 1,200 people was put at risk due to the breach, university officials have said.
Weber State sent out a letter in August informing students and professors who used the science lab that their personal information may have been compromised. In September the Chi Tester support office send out an email to professors stating that they had no way of knowing which tests had been compromised.
Langford told police that he and his wife destroyed all the stolen information, that he never sold a test to anyone and that he no longer has any of the stolen information.
According to the police report the prosecutor offered Langford reduced charges in exchange for information on how he compromised the system.
Andrea Grover, WSU information security manager, said the university has taken steps to prevent this type of breach in the future. Grover said students and faculty should change their passwords often in order to secure their personal information.