Man pleads guilty to stealing U.S. trade secrets

SALT LAKE CITY — A scientist accused of stealing secret formulas from a Utah chemistry company has pleaded guilty to a federal computer charge.

Prabhu Mohapatra entered the plea Friday in U.S. District Court to one count of unlawful access to a protected computer, in exchanged for prosecutors dropping 25 other charges against him, the Deseret News reported.

Mohapatra, 42, had worked for North Logan-based Frontier Scientific Inc. from 2009 to 2011. He admitted to accessing a company chemical resource notebook and emailing the formula for meso-Tetraphenylporphine, or TPP, to his brother-in-law in India.

Investigators say that relative was setting up a competing company to undercut Frontier Scientific on prices it charges for pharmaceutical chemicals. Frontier Chemical, which supplies chemicals for research and drug discovery, says no other company in the world produces TPP in such large quantities.

The case marked the first time federal authorities filed industrial espionage charges in Utah, according to FBI officials. Until 1996, the theft of trade secrets wasn’t a federal crime, and the FBI had spotty success trying to prosecute such cases using other statutes.

Congress then passed the Economic Espionage Act, giving the FBI full authority to pursue the cases. Many companies handle such cases internally, afraid the news will lower their company’s stock or send investors fleeing, federal authorities said.

Mohapatra in December pleaded not guilty to federal charges, including computer fraud and theft of trade secrets. He was arrested Nov. 14 and released the same day after his moves were tracked on a company computer.

He was placed on leave Oct. 26 and later confessed his role in a meeting with company executives, according to court documents.

Mohapatra faces up to five years in prison when he’s sentenced Aug. 28.

More in Local News

Majority of Marysville City Council seats are contested

The most closely watched race is between Mark James and Donna Wright.

500 tires go up in flames at a store south of Everett

There were no injuries. And it was nowhere near as bad as that months-long tire fire in 1984.

Inclusion super important to Monroe High senior

Sarah Reeves worked to make homecoming more representative of the student population.

A pot deal between teens leaves them injured, facing charges

Police found out about the incident when both ended up at the same hospital that night.

Funds up for council vote would aid conservation district

District stands to receive an extra $1 million each year, if the County Council gives its approval.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Lake Stevens man injured by 50-foot fall near Leavenworth

The rescuers had to tie in to keep from falling due to the steep rugged terrain.

Lynnwood mayor challenged by councilman in general election

Three City Council members also are facing challengers on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Most Read