An Arlington, Tennessee man pleaded guilty today to intentionally accessing a competing engineering firm’s computer network without proper authorization in order to obtain proprietary information, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence J. Laurenzi of the Western District of Tennessee.
Jason Needham, 45, co-owner of HNA Engineering, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge John T. Fowlkes Jr. of the Western District of Tennessee. Sentencing is set for July 14, 2017.
As part of his guilty plea, Needham admitted that, over a nearly two-year period, he repeatedly accessed the servers of Allen & Hoshall, his former employer, to download digitally rendered engineering schematics and more than 100 PDF documents containing project proposals and budgetary documents. Needham also admitted to accessing, on hundreds of occasions, the email account of a former colleague at Allen & Hoshall, which provided Needham access to the firm’s marketing plans, project proposals, company fee structures and the rotating account credentials for the company’s internal document-sharing system. According to the plea, Needham used his unauthorized access to view, download and copy proprietary business information worth approximately $425,000.
The FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra L. Ireland of the Western District of Tennessee and Trial Attorney Timothy C. Flowers of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section prosecuted the case.