updated 7/16/2008 8:16:23 PM ET 2008-07-17T00:16:23

A city computer engineer accused of tampering with San Francisco's new computer network to give himself exclusive access was ordered held on $5 million bail.

City officials accused Department of Technology employee Terry Childs of taking over the new FiberWAN (Wide Area Network) by creating a secret password for his own use. The multi-million-dollar computer network stores records such as officials' e-mails, city payroll files, confidential law enforcement documents and jail bookings.

Childs, 43, was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday. He was arrested Sunday and held on suspicion of four counts of computer tampering. He did not enter a plea at a court appearance Tuesday.

His public defender, Mark Jacobs, described the bail amount as crazy and suggested the charges resulted from a misunderstanding.

"I don't think he's a threat," Jacobs said. "He didn't kill anybody, and murderers usually get a $1 million bail, so you do the math."

The city says fixing the system and determining whether the alleged tampering led to a security breach could cost millions of dollars. Officials say the exact damage is still being assessed.

Prosecutors have not given a motive, but police investigators say Childs recently had been disciplined at work.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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