Son of Tennessee Lawmaker Pleads Not Guilty in Sarah Palin E-Mail Hack

The 20-year-old son of a prominent Tennessee Democrat stands accused of hacking into the e-mail address of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The alleged hacker, David Kernell, was indicted Oct. 8 by a federal grand jury and faces a maximum of five years in prison if convicted.

The 20-year-old son of a Tennessee state legislator pleaded not guilty to illegally accessing the e-mail account of Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin.

David C. Kernell, 20, son of state Rep. Mike Kernell, D-Memphis, was indicted Oct. 8 by a federal grand jury in Knoxville, Tenn.

According to the indictment, Kernell stands accused of accessing Palin's private Yahoo e-mail account on approximately Sept. 16 by resetting the password. He then posted screenshots of the account on, and later attempted to cover his tracks by deleting and altering files on his computer, authorities allege.

At the time of the hack, Palin was dealing with charges from critics that she was using a private e-mail account to handle official state business as governor.

Word of the hack spread like wildfire after screenshots from Palin's "" account were posted on following the hack. At the time, hackers linked to "Anonymous"-a name given to anonymous posters on's message boards-were credited with the hack. However, a hacker with the handle "Rubico" posted details (warning: profanity is used) on of how he used Yahoo's password recovery feature to break into Palin's account. The handle was later traced to Kernell.

If convicted of the charge, Kernell faces a maximum term of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a three-year term of supervised release. A trial date has not been set.