Monsegur answered. In photos, he sported two shiny earrings, short hair, and a well-tended goatee. That night, he wore jeans and a T-shirt. “I don’t have a computer,” he protested, though the cables were in plain view. The FBI had known Sabu’s true identity for weeks—Emick told me she’d been contacted by the FBI soon after she released details of his identity. On June 7, they subpoenaed Monsegur’s Facebook account and discovered the messages to “papi” that implicated him in aggravated identity theft, enough to move against him. If convicted, he faced a minimum of two years.
The agents reminded him of his two girls—who must have been asleep in the apartment at the time. “He was terrified for his kids,” said an attorney briefed on the arrest. The agents let him know that if he proved a productive informant, he might receive a lighter sentence—how light depended on his productivity. Sabu the revolutionary had often vowed to go down honorably. “I’m the martyr type I grew up in the streets. I’d rather go down for my own shit than take down my own niggas,” he boasted. But that was bluster. When an agent shouted that the deal was off, Sabu quickly agreed to cooperate.
The next day, June 8, Monsegur was secretly arraigned in a federal courtroom in lower Manhattan and released on his own signature. In a form filed with the court, Sabu stated that he had $100 in available funds at the time and owned nothing of value.
It was as an informant that Sabu signed into a LulzSec chat room on June 24 and learned that his comrades were dropping out of the movement. He needed them to commit crimes, so he could help the FBI bust them, but Sabu also seemed truly hurt. “You guys can go,” he wrote, resigned. “I’m fucked sooner or later, so I got no choice but to continue.” He told them he’d reached “the point of no return,” a phrase he’d often repeat.
Once he became an informant, the authorities finally accorded Monsegur the respect he felt he deserved, praising his work ethic and his savvy. And Sabu overachieved for the FBI, working diligently “since literally the day he was arrested,” an assistant U.S. Attorney said. He was “staying up sometimes all night … helping the government build cases” against friends who the US government later called his “co-conspirators.”
The FBI replaced his computer and installed key-logging software on a new one. They rigged his apartment with video-monitoring equipment. He sometimes worked out of FBI offices, but even when home, agents monitored every letter he typed and every move he made.
Sabu found that he enjoyed his new role, and the power that came with it. Once he identified with the marginalized; now he favored the special agents in coats and ties. “Informants want to be liked,” explained a former top prosecutor. “And they want to do something they feel is successful.” Indeed, Sabu assumed this new identity with a little too much ease. On February 3, 2012, an NYPD officer stopped Monsegur in his building in the projects. Monsegur was asked for his I.D. “Relax, I am a federal agent,” he said. After Milan Patel, an FBI special agent, refuted his story, Monsegur was charged for impersonating an officer.
He didn’t let the snub bother him. “Once he’d been caught, it was like he thought, Why not just enjoy it?” said Olson. Two weeks after his arrest, Sabu tweeted: “Operation Anti-Security—The biggest, unified operation among hackers in history. All factions welcome. We are one.” AntiSec was the movement that succeeded LulzSec, and it was Sabu’s baby as well as an FBI front. Sabu urged on hackers, inciting them to commit crimes, with the apparent approval of the FBI. (The FBI wouldn’t comment.) On January 30, 2012, under the watchful eye of federal agents, he tweeted: “Hackers around the world unite. Help your brothers and sisters. Use your skills to disrupt the governments communications for the cause.” On January 20, 2012, he tweeted: “We need to hit their pockets.” As a double agent, Sabu needed to stay in role, but there were times when he let his guard down, Sabu became friends with Kieshu Zykova, as she was known online—her real name is Bethany Woolridge. She was an Anonymous groupie. “I was obsessed with Sabu,” she told me. “I was overjoyed he was interested in me.” At first, Sabu dutifully worked her for information, but soon the talk turned intimate. Zykova talked of coming to New York to be with him. Sabu put her off. He knew what the future held. “Now that I look back … many times he tried to protect me and get me out of that scene.”