A federal grand jury has returned a new indictment against a South Texas man who is linked to the hacking collective Anonymous, prosecutors said Tuesday.
The 44-count indictment adds new attempted computer-hacking charges to those already faced by Fidel Salinas, 27, of Donna. It also includes 18 counts of cyberstalking.
The new allegations claim Salinas tried in 2011 and 2012 to hack into the computers of Hidalgo County, the La Joya Independent School District, The Monitor newspaper in McAllen and a woman he is now accused of cyberstalking.
Authorities say he used a computer program to launch more than 14,000 attempts to access the county website over a two-day period in January 2012, costing the county $10,000 to repair.
Salinas already had pleaded not guilty to a 15-count indictment returned earlier this month. His defense attorney, Alma Garza, did not immediately return a message Tuesday night.
An indictment last year had accused him of attempting to gain unauthorized access to the Hidalgo County website. Salinas initially told FBI agents who arrested him last year that he was just checking to see if he could get into the website to alert network administrators of security problems.
Authorities said Salinas was found to frequent a chat room run by Anonymous for exchange of ideas for undermining security measures. Anonymous is a loosely organized worldwide hacking group that has stolen confidential information, defaced websites and temporarily put some victims out of business.
Salinas' attorney, Garza, has denied that Salinas has any connection to Anonymous and argues the group is no more than a chat room in which anyone can enter and engage in online conversation.
Each of the charges against him carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.