That work computer is for WORK! 

A former computer expert at DeKalb Tech is facing up to 15 years in prison and demands that he reimburse the state $415,000 for illegally using computer time -- at a rate of 59 cents per second.

Before resigning more than a year and a half ago, David McOwen of Gainesville worked at the school for "several years," says his attorney, David Joyner. While employed there, Joyner says, McOwen downloaded a screensaver program that allowed access to a computer distribution network, a system of participating computers sharing software and resources.

McOwen, who oversaw the school's computer system, "was trying to take advantage of some unused bandwidth for this project," says Joyner. "The program didn't even run until the screensaver came on, but they're basically charging him with computer trespass, and saying he has to pay 59 cents a second, which we think is outrageous."

Joyner says McOwen resigned after school officials complained about the program.

"They asked for his resignation, he gave it to them, and thought that was the end of it -- until the GBI contacted him."

No charges have been filed yet, but a DeKalb County grand jury is slated to hear the state's case and decide whether to proceed. A spokesman for the state attorney general's office declines to comment because the case is still under investigation, but concedes that it is by far the largest such damage claim he's heard in similar circumstances.

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