A computer programmer has pleaded guilty to federal crimes after prosecutors say the “reputation management services” he offered to a Wichita lawyer included sending emails to his critics threatening cyberattacks.
David Dorsett, 37, of Wichita, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of making extortionate threats through the internet, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a news release.
As part of his plea, Dorsett admitted that in September 2014 he offered “reputation management services” to Wichita lawyer Brad Pistotnik, who is also known as “The Bull.” Prosecutors said that emails between the men showed Pistotnik asking Dorsett, “Any luck removing that bad website I showed you?” and “tell me how we get rid of it.”
Pistotnik is known for his commercials in which he rides a bull while advertising that he is an accident attorney.
He had wanted Dorsett to remove internet postings of a negative consumer review and a Kansas Supreme Court disciplinary opinion against himself, prosecutors said. Dorsett sent a barrage of emails to websites Leagle.com and RipoffReport.com demanding that the information be removed. Pistotnik paid Dorsett for sending the threats.
The review on the web page prosecutors linked to in court documents claims, in part, that “you are better off hiring his brother.” The disciplinary opinion cited in court documents was from 1993, where two formal complaints brought against Pistotnik were based on “a pattern of repeated criminal offenses.” He was ultimately suspended from practicing law in Kansas for a year.
“If you don’t remove it we will begin targeting your advertisers and explain that this will stop happening to them once they pull their ads,” Dorsett’s emails said, in part, according to prosecutors.
Dorsett’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 6, and he faces up to two years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on each of the two counts. Both parties recommend in his plea deal that he be placed on three years of probation.
Pistotnik pleaded guilty last week to three misdemeanor counts of being an accessory after the fact to making an extortionate threat over the internet. A judge ordered him to pay a $375,000 fine and $55,200 in restitution. He will not serve time in prison or on probation. The fine, restitution and lack of imprisonment or probation were recommended by both parties in a plea deal.