Feds charge two EMC employees with stealing more than $1M in equipment

The men were also charged with wire fraud and selling stolen property in interstate commerce

Federal prosecutors Tuesday charged two men with stealing more than $1 million in high-tech equipment from EMC facilities in Massachusetts and North Carolina and trying to sell it over the Internet.

Prosecutors charged Kevin Kelly, 33, of North Carolina, and Mark Rothfuss, 47, of Brockton, Mass., as well as a company known as BL Trading LLC , of Hanover, Mass., with wire fraud and selling, receiving or transporting stolen property in interstate commerce. Kelly was also charged with aggravated identity theft.

BL Trading is a 23-year-old computer equipment reseller that, among other vendors, distributes EMC storage hardware and software products. Its Web site states that it has "the largest inventory of pre-owned [EMC] Clariion parts in the Northeast." Clariion is EMC's midrange line of data storage systems. The company also resells products for Dell , Hewlett-Packard, IBM , Brocade Communications Systems, QLogic and Emulex.

An EMC spokesman said the company cooperated closely with local and federal authorities in their investigation of the alleged thefts.

"This type of alleged illegal behavior robs legitimate businesses of millions of dollars in lost revenue," said Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Boston, in a statement. "HSI will continue to investigate these crimes in an effort to deter this activity in the United States and around the world."

The charges also allege that BL Trading used software obtained from EMC to update EMC computer equipment that it was supposed to use only for its EMC-authorized business, but instead used it to update EMC computer equipment for its separate resale business.

The charges against Kelly allege that he worked in EMC's Apex, N.C., factory, and that from 2000 through 2009 he stole $929,891 worth of equipment from the manufacturing plant by concealing it in a duffle or gym bag as he left work.

Kelly's profile on the social networking site Linked-In describes him as a distribution manager for EMC.

The charges also allege that Kelly participated in electronic fencing by selling EMC's stolen equipment over the Internet using the identity of an associate without the associate's knowledge.

Federal prosecutors allege that BL Trading bought most of Kelly's stolen equipment and that a former BL Trading employee primarily responsible for purchasing equipment for its resale business knew or was willfully blind to the fact that Kelly's equipment was stolen.

The charges against Rothfuss allege that he worked at EMC's service call centers in Newton and Waltham, Mass., and that from 2007 through 2009, he stole $140,654 worth of EMC equipment in a number of ways, including by requesting more equipment for repairs than he actually needed.

If convicted, Kelly faces a maximum of 32 years in prison, followed by three years on probation. Rothfuss faces up to 30 years in prison followed by three years of probation. Both men also face fines of up to $250,000 or twice the gain or loss, whichever is highest, per count.

BL Trading faces restitution and a fine of $500,000 or twice the gain or loss, whichever is highest, per count. However, prosecutors agreed to dismiss the charges after two years if the company cooperates with law enforcement officials, pays restitution, and adheres to a strict corporate compliance program designed to ensure that it does not purchase or sell stolen equipment and does not update used equipment without the manufacturer's agreement.

"Congress and the public have become increasingly concerned with the ease by which people can unlawfully obtain items and sell them over the Internet under false or assumed identities," U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said, in a statement. "If accepted by the Court, the compliance program announced today will provide a model for online equipment resellers to ensure that their vendors are legitimate."

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Tags governmentregulationDellIBMstorageemcHewlett-Packardstorage hardwareQLogicGov't Legislation/RegulationBrocade Communications

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Lucas Mearian

Computerworld (US)
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