The 35-year-old Jacksonville man facing dozens of federal charges of hacking into the email accounts of several celebrities faced reporters for the first time Friday afternoon.
Hours earlier, Christopher Chaney said nothing as he arrived at the Federal Courthouse surrounded by dozens of cameras, a few from national networks. After a brief hearing at which he waived his right to a preliminary hearing, he left, also without comment, in a limousine.
At a hastily arranged news conference outside his lawyers office Friday afternoon, Cheney made a statement but did not answer questions.
"I am very sorry for all of this," Chaney said. "What I'm most sorry about is that I had to drag my mom into all of this, and my family and my neighbors."
Chaney had told a television reporter the night after his arrest that he plans to plead guilty when he goes to Los Angeles to face 26 federal charges of identity theft, unauthorized access to a protected computer and wiretapping. At Friday's hearing, a date of that court appearance was set for Nov. 12.
If convicted of all charges, Chaney could faces up to 121 years in prison.
"Charges that's alleged in the indictment early 120 years in prison.People who murder kids don't get 120 years in prison," said his attorney, Christopher Chestnut.
Chaney is accused of hacking into the email accounts of actress Scarlett Johansson and other celebrities and downloading their private information, which led to nude photos of Johansson and other information appearing on the Internet.
There were more than 50 victims in the case, including Mila Kunis, Christina Aguilera and actress Renee Olstead, authorities said. Others were identified only by initials and investigators wouldn't disclose if they were famous, but said victims named in the indictment agreed to have their identities made public.
In the televised interview, Chaney said he began celebrity hacking out of curiosity and it quickly became addictive, "seeing the behind-the-scenes of what's going on with the people you see on the big screen." He said he was almost relieved when the FBI seized his computers months ago.
He insisted that he never intended to blackmail anyone and that he had no part in posting the photos.
"Someone contacted me wanting the pictures," said Chaney, who is free on $10,000 bond. "I don't even know who it was. No, I didn't give that person any pictures. I never wanted to sell or release any images."
During his only interview prior to Friday, he said he wanted to apologize to celebrities for his actions.
"I know what I did was probably the worst invasion of privacy someone could experience. I'm not trying to escape what I did. It was wrong. And I have to just face that and go forward," he told the WTEV reporter.
A note on the front window of his parent's Westside home said he would not talk to any other reporters.
"I understand you are only doing your jobs. I do not resent this or blame the media for trying to get the 'hot' story. I deserve this. My family and neighbors do not. ... Again I apologize and know you have your jobs to do," he wrote.
Neighbor Keishay Hayes said Chaney was reclusive and he only saw him on Wednesdays when he took the garbage to the street and when he walked his small dog. His friend Destiny Gordon said that when she saw the FBI and Jacksonville Sheriff's Office swarm the house a few months ago, she thought someone had died.
Chaney hacked Google, Apple and Yahoo email accounts beginning last November and through February, then hijacked the forwarding feature so that a copy of every email received was sent, "virtually instantaneously," to an email account he controlled, according to an indictment handed up Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles.