A man who attacked the computer network of a renowned hospital in Boston to protest the care of a teenager at the center of a high-profile custody battle was sentenced Thursday to more than 10 years in prison.
Martin Gottesfeld said he has no regrets for the cyberattacks he orchestrated on Boston Children’s Hospital and a treatment home in 2014, which cost the facilities tens of thousands of dollars and disrupted operations for days.
Gottesfeld’s lack of remorse drew a scathing rebuke from the judge, who called his crimes “contemptible, invidious and loathsome.”
“It was your arrogance and misplaced pride that has been on display in this case from the very beginning that led you to believe you know more than the doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital,” the psychiatrists at the treatment facility and everyone else, U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton said.
Gottesfeld, a self-proclaimed member of the international hacking group Anonymous who calls himself an “Obama-era political prisoner,” insists his actions weren’t criminal because he says was trying to save the life of Justina Pelletier.
The Connecticut teenager was placed in state custody in Massachusetts after her parents disputed Boston Children’s Hospital doctors’ diagnosis of their daughter.
Pelletier had previously been diagnosed with mitochondrial disease, a disorder that affects cellular energy production, but Boston Children’s Hospital diagnosed her problems as psychiatric.
The case drew national media attention and ignited a debate over parental rights. Pelletier was later returned to her parents on a judge’s order.
Gottesfeld, who represented himself at the Thursday hearing, told Judge Gorton that he believes he made a big difference in Justina’s life and urged the judge to sentence him to time served.
“My only regret is that I didn’t get to Justina sooner,” he said. “I wish I had done more.”
Gottesfeld’s wife said after the hearing that they plan to appeal.
“This was always about protecting a child,” Dana Gottesfeld said.
Gottesfeld was arrested in 2016 after he and his wife fled the country and were picked up by a Disney cruise ship when their sailboat ran into trouble off the coast of Cuba.
While awaiting trial, he waged a 100-day hunger strike in prison he said was aimed at bringing attention to the treatment of troubled youths in institutions.
The prosecutor asked the judge to sentence Gottesfeld to more than 12 years, describing him as a “self-aggrandizing menace” who has sought to portray himself as a human rights activist from behind bars.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David D’Addio said Gottesfeld put lives in danger, continues to peddle “lies and conspiracy theories about his prosecution” and is a serious risk of offending again.
“He did not save a girl’s life,” D’Addio said. “He is not a hero. He committed crimes and today is about holding him accountable for those crimes.”