Criminal Records

By eweek  |  Posted 2001-06-04 Print this article Print

Criminal Records

Caldwell first came to ICG in February of 2000 on contract, but by April had been hired as its lead security investigator. One of his first assignments as a contractor, he said, was to investigate the allegations against Minard, who joined the company in 1998 through its San Jose subsidiary, Netcom Online Communications, later renamed ICG NetAhead.

Caldwell was laid off at the end of January and now works as security director at a health industry firm in Nevada. He said his inquiries showed that Minard had a felony record. That raised concerns because of his extensive access to the companys data network.

Interactive Weeks check of court records in Houston showed that, in addition to numerous misdemeanor charges, Minard was twice indicted for and convicted of felonies — once in 1992 for the theft of some $20,000 in computer equipment, and again in 1995 for charges of check and credit-card fraud involving the theft of tens of thousands of dollars from a small Houston audio store. He received sentences of five years probation in the 1992 case, and eight years probation in the second case.

Minard, through his attorney, Michael L. Kadish, said the charges in both cases were false, but that he reached plea agreements both times because he didnt have the money to defend himself.

But Jack Wernli, who owned the audio store, said Minard obtained access to his companys records, duplicated credit-card receipts and wrote checks to himself on company accounts, eventually bleeding the company for more than $150,000.

"I could only prove $60,000 of that loss," Wernli said. "He was ordered to pay restitution for that amount. He paid at $325 a month for a long time, until recently, when I got a single check for the balance — about $20,000."

In a lengthy interview at a private club in San Jose, Minard characterized his termination from ICG as revolving around disagreements with executives over business practices in its drive to install some 4 million ports on its data network. He said dozens of employees who worked for him left the company when he was fired. "If I was doing anything wrong, that wouldnt have been the case," he said.

His attorney said the allegations that he misappropriated ICG equipment were false. Like many employees, Kadish said, Minard often worked from home and thus had company equipment there, which he returned on his dismissal.

"It was no secret within ICG that several internal security employees had a personal dislike for Mr. Minard . . . and it appears that they are displaying their personal pique by making knowingly false allegations against him."

Minard, 34, said he disclosed his criminal history to a human resources officer at ICG subsidiary Netcom when he was hired. He said he was told "not to worry about it."

He characterized his felony convictions as "something that happened when I was a kid. Ive turned my life around since then."

Minard is now a vice president at Euclid, a San Jose Internet start-up that competes with software infrastructure service provider Loudcloud. In a press release announcing his appointment in April, Euclid executives touted Minards network experience at ICG, and said he had a bachelor of science degree in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a masters of business administration from Rice University.

Minard admitted to Interactive Week that he had only attended MIT for part of one undergraduate semester, and Rice University for a few months of graduate school before dropping out. He said his degree came from the University of Houston.

Euclid spokesman Tony Simpson said the company was making inquiries. After Euclid was contacted by Interactive Week, Kadish said hisclient never told Euclid that he graduated from MIT and Rice, and didnt know how it got that information.

Minard was one of several ICG employees whose backgrounds were not checked or whose résumés had discrepancies that were initially overlooked, Caldwell said.

Hiring individuals with criminal history and falsified résumés and allowing them access to network infrastructure raises serious liability issues for companies and their customers, said Eugene Spafford, a Purdue University computer science professor and consulting editor for the book Computer Crime: A Crimefighters Handbook.

"When youre entrusting a significant part of your communications security to individuals within a company, I think you want to know that they are reliable," he said. "It is possible with sufficient access, especially to an [Internet service providers] traffic, to plant something called sniffers that can capture credit-card numbers and passwords of customers. Its a significant issue.

"You have to have adequate background checks to insure that these kinds of problems are minimized," he said. "Issues like due diligence come to mind. They are not concepts that should be abused."


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