Defendant Had Accepted Employment Offer of Vice President Position At Competitor Firm
SAN FRANCISCO – 15 December -LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – United States Attorney Kevin V. Ryan announced that Mehdi Matt Rashidi, 44, of Pleasanton, California, pleaded guilty on Thursday afternoon for misappropriating trade secrets from his former employer.
According to court documents, Mr. Rashidi worked at BioGenex Laboratories, Inc. (“BioGenex”), located in San Ramon, California, from 1998 until he resigned on September 2, 2004. When he resigned, Mr. Rashidi held the position of Director of Imaging and Diagnostic Systems at BioGenex. Before resigning, Mr. Rashidi received a written offer of employment from Lab Vision Corporation, a competitor of BioGenex and located in Fremont, California, for the position of Vice President, New Technologies, with a base salary of $175,000 and a bonus plan of $25,000, among other benefits.
In the plea agreement, Mr. Rashidi admitted that on August 26, 2004, at approximately 6:46 p.m., he sent an e-mail to the BioGenex Human Resources Manager announcing his resignation from BioGenex effective September 2, 2004. Earlier that same day, he took the original engineering notes of a BioGenex engineer, which was located in a building in which Mr. Rashidi did not work. Mr. Rashidi was not authorized to take the engineering notes and he admitted that he thought that the information on the notes would help him succeed in his future employment outside of Biogenex. He knew that the engineering notes contained confidential information concerning the design and specifications of the Nirvana I-4000, an automated Staining System product that BioGenex intended to produce. He was also aware that BioGenex considered the information in the notes to constitute trade secrets, that BioGenex had taken reasonable measures to protect the secrecy of the engineering notes as a trade secret. Rashidi further knew that BioGenex derived independent economic value from trade secret not being publicly known, and that his possession and use of the information in the notes outside of BioGenex would injure the company. The engineer notes were found in Mr. Rashidi’s residence during the execution of a search warrant.
The maximum statutory penalty for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1832(a)(1) is 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the Court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553. United States District Judge Martin J. Jenkins scheduled a tentative sentencing hearing for February 16, 2006 at 2:00 p.m..
The prosecution is the result of an investigation by agents of the FBI and the San Ramon Police Department. The federal case was overseen by the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark L. Krotoski is prosecuting the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tom Mazzucco and Keslie Stewart also assisted on the case.