- Associated Press - Thursday, June 23, 2016

SEATTLE (AP) - A federal judge on Thursday said he will not throw out evidence collected from the laptop owned by a Russian man accused of hacking into U.S. businesses to steal credit card information, but he said the man’s lawyers can take their argument to the jury and let them decide.

Lawyers for Roman Seleznev, the son of a member of the Russian Parliament, had asked the judge to suppress everything collected from the laptop because the U.S. Secret Service agents who arrested Seleznev accessed the machine before securing a warrant.

John Henry Browne also claimed that the agents tampered with the laptop while it was stored in an evidence vault — a claim the agents denied during several hearings on the issue.

Federal prosecutors called an expert who testified that the laptop was not touched by anyone until after the warrant was secured. The expert said the activity that shows up on the laptop’s activity log was normal system maintenance, not malicious tampering.

Federal prosecutors call Seleznev a leader in the marketplace for stolen credit cards. They claim he hacked into the computer systems of American restaurants and businesses and stole about 2 million credit card numbers that he later sold on a private website. Seleznev made millions from his illegal operations and was living an extravagant lifestyle before his arrest, authorities said.

He was indicted on 40 charges ranging from fraud to identity theft.

In his oral ruling, Jones said the delay in getting a warrant was understandable since Seleznev was arrested in the Maldives and then brought to Guam before landing in Seattle.

Jones also said the competing expert opinions on the laptop tampering issue should be decided by the jury.

When the position of dueling experts serve as the basis of a challenge, Jones said, the challenge goes to the weight of the evidence, not whether it should be considered at trial.

Seleznev’s trial is set for Aug. 15.

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Follow Martha Bellisle at https://twitter.com/marthabellisle

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