The Koala, a privately-owned alternative student newspaper at California State University, San Marcos, has been indulging in bad taste and worse humor for a decade, but its editor, Matthew Weaver, was only there for a few years before his twisted sense of propriety landed him in trouble with the law.
Last week, the 22-year-old former student pleaded guilty to federal charges of wire fraud, access device fraud and unauthorized use of a computer for trying to rig a March 2012 election in which he was running for student body president. He faces 27 to 33 months in jail and will be sentenced June 17 by U.S. District Judge Larry Alan Burns.
Weaver was running for the Associated Student, Inc. (ASI) job, a position that pays $8,000 a year, along with four friends who were seeking other paying positions. The Huntington Beach native installed key logging software on a number of campus computers, obtaining 745 student IDs and passwords, 480 of which he used to cast votes electronically.
The scheme was discovered on the last day of the election when a burst of votes, more than are typically cast in a student election, suddenly flooded the electronic vote-counting machine. University tech staff members determined the votes were coming from a single campus computer in Academic Hall and were able to access it remotely and literally watch names being cut and pasted into ballots for submission.
They hustled over to the building and used a cellphone to record Weaver hard at work. After he was caught, Weaver tried to pin the blame on his opponent by creating fake Facebook pages that seemed to implicate the other candidate in voter fraud.
At the time of his arrest, Weaver was lead editor of The Koala, a self-styled satirical student newspaper distributed on three CalState campuses. Its content is primarily racist, misogynist and homophobic, although it has a taste for pedophilia and violence. It has not published since Weaver’s arrest.