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E-mail charges are dropped at ISU


January 3, 2002

Ames, Ia. - Story County officials dropped charges against a former Iowa State University graduate student who allegedly tapped into a friend's e-mail account for months and nearly cost him a $200,000-a-year job.

King Chong Iris Fung was charged in August with electronic eavesdropping, which carries a one-year jail term. She was a student in statistics at the time. Fung entered the unidentified friend's e-mail account at least 33 times, about half the time from a computer laboratory on campus, ISU police said.

A judge granted a request from the Story County attorney's office to dismiss the case two weeks ago, court records show.

Fung must comply with an agreement reached with prosecutors, who can refile charges if she breaks her obligation. Her attorney, Steve Owen, declined to discuss the agreement. She faces no fines, jail or probation.

Assistant County Attorney Angelina Thomas did not return a telephone call Wednesday. Judge Steven Van Marel was unavailable.

The case involved "human emotion and drama that aren't reflected on the public record," Owen said.

Fung viewed the e-mail conversations of her friend and his wife for nine months, officers said. She gained access to his account by guessing his password "after numerous attempts," said Jerry Stewart, director of the campus police department.

The friend was a candidate for a mortgage job at a Los Angeles company, where officials received word via e-mail last summer that he was no longer interested.

"Just on a whim, I wanted to find out more," said Irwin Stalk of search firm Chrisman and Company. "When I called him, he said he never sent that e-mail to me." Stalk said the alleged victim eventually took the job.

Fung, who is from Hong Kong, is no longer enrolled at the university. She could not be reached for comment.

By STACI HUPP. Copyright © 2002, The Des Moines Register./p>

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