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Hacker gets 20 years for stealing credit-card data from retailers

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Boston A computer hacker from Florida has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for helping engineer one of the largest thefts of credit- and debit-card numbers in U.S. history.

Albert Gonzalez of Miami was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Boston. He pleaded guilty last year to breaking into the computer systems of major retailers, including TJX Cos. and BJ's Wholesale Club.

Prosecutors had sought 25 years for Gonzalez (see related story), saying he victimized millions of people and cost companies, banks and insurers nearly $200 million. His lawyer had argued Gonzalez should get no more than 15 years.

Gonzalez pleaded guilty last year in three separate hacking cases brought in Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. The Thursday hearing dealt with the Massachusetts case. A second sentencing Friday will deal with the others.

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