Courthouse burglars’ story checks out as zealous security test

Gary Edward DeMercurio, 45, of Seattle, Washington, left, and Justin Lawson Wynn, 31, of Naples, Florida, are suing Dallas County and Sheriff Chad Leonard for their arrest Sept. 11, 2019.

A Colorado cybersecurity company has confirmed that the two men arrested shortly after midnight Wednesday and charged with burglarizing the Dallas County Courthouse are employees of the firm.

Gary Edward Demercurio, 43, of Seattle, Wash., and Justin Lawson Wynn, 29, of Naples, Fla., told the Dallas County Deputy Sheriffs who arrested them that “they were contracted to break into the building for Iowa courts to check the security of the building.”

A spokesperson for Westminster, Colo.-based Coalfire, a cybersecurity assessment and advisory firm, confirmed for Thursday that Demercurio and Wynn work for the company.

Lindsay Smith

“What I can tell you is these gentlemen are employees with Coalfire,” said Lindsay Smith, senior director of public relations with Coalfire. “Beyond that I can’t confirm any details on the case because our specific client engagements are confidential in nature, and in this specific case it’s an active legal matter.”

Demercurio and Wynn were each charged with third-degree burglary and possession of burglary tools after they tripped a burglar alarm when they allegedly broke into the courthouse at 908 Court St. in Adel early Wednesday.

A press release issued late Wednesday by the Iowa Judicial Branch confirmed the state court administration did hire Coalfire to test vulnerabilities in the the state’s electronic records system but “did not intend, or anticipate, those efforts to include the forced entry into a building.”

Dallas County Sheriff Chad Leonard said he “received several phone calls” on the matter but declined to elaborate further.

Smith said Coalfire is “a global cybersecurity firm. We’ve conducted over 10,000 security assessments since 2001. We’ve performed hundreds of assessments for similar government agencies, and our employees do work diligently to ensure our engagements are conducted with the utmost integrity.”

Demercurio and Wynn were released from the Dallas County Jail after posting bond. They are scheduled for a preliminary hearing Sept. 23 in Dallas County District Court.

*A criminal charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.


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