Nintendo Hacker Pleads Guilty to Theft of Nintendo Files, Possession of Child Pornography After FBI Investigation

A hacker who released details of the Nintendo Switch is facing prison time and a hefty fine.
A hacker who released details of the Nintendo Switch is facing prison time and a hefty fine. / Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

A California man pleaded guilty Friday to federal crimes relating to hacking of sensitive information from Nintendo as well as possession of child pornography, both of which were uncovered by an FBI investigation, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office (via Eurogamer).

Ryan S. Hernandez, 21, previously stole and leaked information about the Nintendo Switch in 2016 when he was still a minor. Hernandez used a phishing technique to obtain a Nintendo employee's credentials. The FBI previously contacted Hernandez and his parents in 2017, and Hernandez "promised to stop any further malicious activity and confirmed that he understood the consequences of any future hacking," according to the release.

Despite this promise, Hernandez continued to access Nintendo servers from June 2018 to June 2019 to steal confidential information. Hernandez then proceeded to repeatedly share stolen confidential information and brag about his exploits through social media, including Discord and Twitter.

During a June 2019 investigation in which FBI agents searched Hernandez's home and seized his electronics, thousands of sexually explicit images and videos of minors were found — they were saved in a folder labeled "Bad Stuff," according to the report.

Hernandez now faces up to five years of prison time for the "computer fraud and abuse" charges and up to 20 years in prison for the possession of child pornography. Prosecutors and defense attorneys in the case are recommending three years in prison under the terms of the plea agreement, though the assigned U.S. District judge will ultimately determine Hernandez's sentence.

In addition to the prison sentence, Hernandez has agreed to pay out more than $250,000 to Nintendo in remediation costs. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.

Sentencing is currently scheduled for April 21, 2020 under U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour.