Bernie S

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Bernie S. (born Edward Cummings) is a computer hacker living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is a regular panelist on the WBAI radio show Off the Hook. In 2001 he appeared in Freedom Downtime, a documentary produced by 2600 Films.[1]


In 1995, the police department of Haverford Township, Pennsylvania happened upon what they believed to be a drug transaction. However, upon looking closer, they discovered Bernie and others were actually buying and selling crystals used in crystal radio and other technological applications. The police who responded were not knowledgeable about technology or computers, which led them to confiscate all the crystals as suspicious materials along with some reading material such as The Whole Spy Catalog.[2]

After the United States Secret Service inquired about the seized equipment, Special Agent Thomas Varney informed local police that some of the equipment was for illicit purposes only. Bernie was subsequently arrested and charged with possession of a non-working RadioShack Red box (phreaking) tone phone dialer. Additional materials were seized and never returned.[3]

Criminal Complaint[edit]

Charges were filed against Edward E. Cummings (case number 95-320) in the United States District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania. The charges were for the possession of a speed dialer, an IBM Thinkpad laptop and computer discs which could be used for unauthorized telecommunications access. The Grand Jury convened on 13 March 1995, and Bernie S's trial was scheduled for 8 September 1995. Varney labeled Bernie S a danger to society for having too much information, due to the publishing by 2600 Films and Bernie S of Secret Service offices locations, phone numbers and radio frequencies, along with photos and codes.[4]


On 7 September 1995, BernieS pled guilty to possession of technology which could be used in a fraudulent manner.[5] He was released on 13 October 1995. In January 1996, Bernie S. was arrested for a probation violation, tampering with evidence. In March 1996 Bernie S. was sentenced between 6–24 months.[citation needed]

While awaiting a parole hearing, he was charged by Bucks County, Pennsylvania prison officials with misuse of the telephone system when he received a by a reporter for Internet Underground, Rob Bernstein. The charges could have added up to nine months to his sentence. Bernie S. appealed the decision.[6] Bernie S filed a grievance for harassment and intimidation against the prison. While waiting for parole, Bernie S. was moved to a high security facility where he was attacked by a fellow inmate and suffered a broken arm and jaw.[6]

After a letter writing campaign, a telephone campaign, and a physical demonstration outside the prison where he was housed, on 13 September 1996 Bernie S was released subject to parole regulations.[7]


  1. ^ IMDb.
  2. ^ Goldstein 2008, p. 532.
  3. ^ Goldstein 2008, p. 533.
  4. ^ Farmelant 1996.
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Goldstein 2008, p. 542.
  7. ^ Goldstein 2008, p. 543.