On April 22, 2013, Miles J. Slack of Clay County, West Virginia made a bad decision. Slack was going through a divorce at the time and had grown concerned about his wife’s relationship with an “unnamed individual.” So he entered his wife’s workplace after normal business hours, located her PC, and installed a tiny keylogger between her keyboard cable and her computer.
The keylogger would record his wife’s e-mails and her instant messaging chats as she typed them out letter by letter, along with the usernames and passwords she used for various online services. Slack left the office without getting caught.
Installing hardware keyloggers can be risky even in low-security circumstances, but Slack had made his offense far worse by installing the device on a computer belonging to the West Virginia Supreme Court. Slack’s wife worked for the Clay County Magistrate Court and often had occasion to enter the financial details of defendants convicted in court—including the credit cards they used to pay their fines. Slack’s bid to spy on his wife’s e-mails was also vacuuming up private court information, which the government was bound to take extremely seriously if it found out.
Making the whole situation just that much worse was the fact that Slack was a cop. Not just any cop, either; Slack was the county sheriff.
He had served as a Clay County deputy sheriff for 16 years and in November 2012 won an election to become the chief law enforcement officer in all of Clay County.
At the time of the keylogger job, Slack had been in office only three months, and if the device were ever found, Slack stood to lose his career.