Joseph Konopka

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Joseph Konopka
Joseph Konopka Closeup.jpg
Born 1976 (age 40–41)
De Pere, Wisconsin, USA
Occupation Computer system administrator
Criminal charge Conspiracy to commit terrorism
Criminal penalty 13 years in prison
Criminal status Incarcerated at ADX Florence supermax prison, Fremont County, Colorado

Joseph Konopka, better known by his self-given nickname Dr. Ch@os (typically spelled Dr. Chaos by the media), is an American citizen who is currently serving 13 years in prison for two felony acts of conspiracy to commit acts of terror.[1] In 2004, in Wisconsin, he was also charged with six felony counts of arson and vandalism, as well as trespassing, and sentenced to an additional 10 years. However, these charges were later dropped on a federal appeal.[2]


Konopka was born in 1976 in De Pere, Wisconsin. He did not finish high school, though he completed his GED.[1]

"The Realm of Ch@os"[edit]

Konopka, a former computer systems administrator,[3] used the Internet to recruit a group of adolescent disciples. He called this group The Realm of Ch@os.[1] This group was responsible for 28 power failures and 20 other service interruptions at various Wisconsin power plants.[1] They also committed arson, disrupted radio and television broadcasts, disabled an air traffic control system, sold bootlegged software, and damaged an Internet service provider's computer system.[1]

It was established that Konopka and his group caused more than 50 acts in various Wisconsin counties that affected more than 30,000 power customers and caused more than $800,000 in damage.[4]

Konopka also associated with the Chicago chapter of 2600, a group of hackers who publish a magazine and hold gatherings and an annual national conference.[5] The FBI visited the 2002 meeting of the Chicago chapter and questioned members about their knowledge of Konopka.[6]


In 2002 the 25-year-old Konopka was arrested by the University of Illinois at Chicago police while trespassing in the underground tunnel system beneath the UIC east campus. The arresting officers found a small vial of white powder in Konopka’s possession; tests indicated the powder was sodium cyanide. The subsequent investigation revealed that Konopka was hoarding potassium cyanide and sodium cyanide in an unused Chicago Transit Authority storeroom in the Chicago 'L' Blue Line subway.[7] Konopka had picked the locks on several doors in the tunnels, then changed the locks so that he could access the unused rooms freely. Konopka had briefly associated with a Chicago-area urban exploration group in order to obtain information on how to access the large network of unused tunnels and abandoned rooms in Chicago's transit system as well as to lure juveniles to help him.[8] The cyanide had been stolen from a shuttered warehouse, formerly owned by a water treatment company on Chicago's South Side.[9]


On March 12, 2003, Konopka was sentenced to 13 years in prison for hiding deadly cyanide in a Chicago subway tunnel. When asked by U.S. District Judge Wayne R. Andersen why he had gone on his vandalism spree Konopka stated, "I don't have a real good reason." Defense attorney Matthew Madden claimed Konopka's behavior "stems from an abnormal maturation process." He said normal adults "realize you can't participate in the destruction of property for your own entertainment—that's just not acceptable."[10]

In 2004 Judge Lynn S. Adelman sentenced Konopka to 21 years in prison for conspiring to knock out power lines, burn buildings, and damage computers in Wisconsin. In addition, Konopka was ordered to pay more than $435,000 in restitution to various victims.[11]

On June 1, 2005, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago, overturned the earlier arson and vandalism convictions, saying a federal judge should have let him withdraw his guilty plea before he was sentenced to 21 years in prison.[12]

Konopka is serving his 13-year sentence at ADX Florence and is scheduled for release on August 24, 2019.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e Gina Barton (2004-06-17). "'Dr. Chaos' gets 10 more years for crime spree". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 2008-03-26. [dead link]
  2. ^ Staff (2005-06-01). "Ruling Favors 'Dr. Chaos'". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-26. 
  3. ^ "Guilty Plea Entered By `dr. Chaos'". Wisconsin State Journal. 2005-08-28. Archived from the original on September 17, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  4. ^ "National Briefing - Midwest: Wisconsin: 'Dr. Chaos' Is Sentenced". The New York Times. 2004-06-18. Retrieved 2015-06-17. 
  5. ^ Declan McCullagh. "Cyanide Anarchist a Hacker, Too?" Wired April 9, 2002
  6. ^ Chicago:2600 Press Page Archived August 7, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "Man Charged With Storing Cyanide in Chicago Subway". Los Angeles Times. March 12, 2002. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  8. ^ Tom Held (2002-03-14). "Judge calls 'Dr. Chaos' a true danger: Cyanide suspect waives hearing, stays in custody". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on 2007-11-02. Retrieved 2008-03-26. 
  9. ^ Gibson, Ray; Matt O'Connor (March 14, 2002). "State probes firm in cyanide case - Chicago Tribune". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 9 February 2011. 
  10. ^ The Associated Press (2003-03-14). "'Dr. Chaos' sentenced to 13 years in cyanide case". Retrieved 2015-06-17. 
  11. ^ "National Briefing - Midwest: Wisconsin: 'Dr. Chaos' Is Sentenced". The New York Times. 2004-06-18. Retrieved 2015-06-17. 
  12. ^ "National Briefing - Midwest: Wisconsin: Ruling Favors 'Dr. Chaos'". The New York Times. 2005-06-01. Retrieved 2015-06-17. 
  13. ^ BOP Inmate Locator