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

Inslee’s budget solves school funding with help from carbon

His budget would use reserves to boost education, then replenish them with a carbon tax or fee.

Man, 29, injured by shots fired at Everett thrift store

The gunfire followed an argument in the parking lot of Value Village on Evergreen Way.

Police: He made an appointment, then tried to rob the bank

A lawyer is accused of donning a fake beard and telling a teller that a gunman was outside.

Lynnwood robbery leads to lockdown at Edmonds schools

Edmonds police said it was just a precaution as they search around Edmonds-Woodway High School.

Marysville 7-Eleven hit by armed robbers

Officers set up a perimeter and brought in a police dog, but the man couldn’t be found.

In adult court, four teens plead not guilty to murder

Prosecutors allege they worked together to plan and execute a drug robbery in Everett.

2 women struck, injured while crossing busy roads

The first happened Wednesday night in Everett. The second was Thursday morning in Edmonds.

Lives were on the line

After an estimated 350K emergency calls over 35 years, dispatcher Steve Williams is set to retire.

Drive-by shooting reported in Marysville neighborhood

Police said there was no evidence to indicate it was targeted at a specific person or property.

Most Read