A former Intel employee will be sentenced in August after pleading guilty to stealing confidential documents from the giant chip maker.
In U.S. District Court in Boston on April 6, Biswamohan Pani pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud, which took place in 2008. Intel officials said the documents were valued at $200 million to $400 million, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney Generals Office in Massachusetts.
The 36-year-old Chelmsford, Mass., man admitted that while working at Intels chip development facility in Hudson, Mass., he started looking for a new job with other processor manufacturers from February to April 2008. Pani landed a job at rival Advanced Micro Devices, but kept the job search and the new job secret from Intel.
Pani, who reportedly had worked on design efforts around Intels high-end Itanium processor, on May 28, 2008, told Intel officials he was leaving, possibly to work for a hedge fund. He said he planned to use up about a week and a half of vacation days, leading up to June 11, 2008, which would be his last day at work.
However, Pani actually started working for AMD on June 2, 2008, and outside of Intels knowledge, had begun downloading secret Intel documents related to Intels chip design and manufacturing operations. The downloading started May 28 and continued into May 29. On June 8 and 10, Pani remotely accessed Intel computers multiple times and downloaded what the Attorney Generals Office called 13 of Intels most valuable documents, along with other confidential and proprietary information.
He also downloaded a document outlining how encrypted Intel documents could be reviewed when not connected to the companys servers, and backed up the downloaded file to an external hard drive. He returned to Intel June 11 for an exit interview and said he had not kept any of Intels property, when in fact he had kept the electronic equivalent of boxes full of downloaded documents and some printed Intel documents at his apartment, the Attorney Generals Office said.
FBI officials found the downloaded documents and some printed Intel documents in Panis apartment a month later.
Because the documents were recovered so quickly, Intel was not harmed by the documents stolen by Pani. Investigators said Intel discovered the theft and reported it quickly to law enforcement, and both Intel and AMD cooperated with the investigation. There was no indication that AMD officials or employees had asked Pani to steal the documents or knew he had them.
Pani nevertheless took Intels documents to advance his career at AMD or elsewhere by drawing on the documents when the opportunity arose, whether with his employers knowledge or not, according to the statement from the Attorney Generals Office.
Pani is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 8. According to the 10-page plea agreement, James Lang, the chief prosecutor for Attorney General Carmen Ortizs office, said he will ask for a six-year prison sentence, followed by a year of probation, and an unspecified fine.