A 40-year-old Monterey woman pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in San Jose to using spy software to eavesdrop on private citizens and a police officer over a two-year period, federal prosecutors said. Kristin Nyunt agreed to plea guilty to two counts of felony wiretapping and faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a $500,000 fine at a hearing set for Feb. 23, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Jose.
According to prosecutors, Nyunt admitted to buying online and downloading spy software such as Mobistealth, StealthGenie and mSpy knowing they could be used to intercept wire, oral and electronic communications, prosecutors said. She installed the software, which can record phone calls, texts, voice mails, emails, photos and videos, onto cellphones and computers on which she intended to eavesdrop, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Nyunt possessed the software from 2010 to 2012 and used it to intercept private emails and texts from people in Monterey County who did not know they were being spied upon, including civilians and a police officer, prosecutors said.
The software had a feature that allowed her to activate the microphone in a person’s cellphone to eavesdrop on and record oral conversations without the person’s knowledge. In the case of the police officer, she secretly installed the spyware on his cellphone without his knowledge or consent, giving her access to sensitive law enforcement communications, according to prosecutors. From evidence gathered during an investigation into Nyunt, which involved the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice on Sept. 29 obtained a grand jury indictment of Hammad Akbar, a 31-year-old resident of Pakistan and chief executive officer of InvoCode Pvt. Ltd., which sells the spyware StealthGenie online.
Federal prosecutors alleged that Akbar and other conspirators created StealthGenie, which enables users to illegally intercept communications to and from cellphones such as Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Blackberry Limited’s Blackberry. The investigation into Nyunt by the FBI and the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office found that Kristin Nyunt co-managed an unlicensed private investigations business with her then-husband John Nyunt while he was a commander at the Pacific Grove Police Department. She and her police officer husband arranged to eavesdrop on their clients to steal their personal information, such as Social Security numbers and bank account information, and perform dozens of identity thefts, according to the Monterey County prosecutors.
In September, a judge in Monterey County Superior Court sentenced Kristin Nyunt to eight years and four months on charges of identity theft, forgery and computer network fraud in the plot that involved John Nyunt. In April, John Nyunt, accused of threatening to physically harm Kristin to prevent her from revealing the couple’s scheme, pleaded guilty in the Monterey County court to felony charges of threatening violence to keep a person from reporting a crime, accessory after the fact to theft and burglary and being an accomplice to the burglary of a business. A judge in Monterey County sentenced him to three years in state prison. In May, John Nyunt was convicted of felony extortion and wire fraud in federal court in San Jose and in a plea bargain, received a two-year sentence in federal prison to run concurrently with his state prison term.
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