BOSTON—A Chelmsford man was sentenced today in federal court to three years in prison for stealing computer chip manufacturing and design documents.
Biswamohan Pani, 36, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor, IV to three years in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a fine of $17,500. In April 2012, Pani pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud.
In 2008, Pani was working in Hudson, Massachusetts, for Intel Corporation, a designer and manufacturer of computer chips. From February through April, 2008, Pani was looking for a job at other computer chip manufacturers and ultimately obtained a job at Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), an Intel competitor. Pani kept his job search secret from Intel. When he announced his departure on May 29, 2008, he told the company that he might work for a hedge fund. Pani told Intel that he wanted to take the next one-and-a-half weeks as vacation until his last day at work on June 11, 2008.
Unbeknownst to Intel, Pani had started downloading from Intel numerous secret documents about Intel’s manufacturing and design of computer chips. The intensive downloads began on May 28, just before he announced his departure, and continued on May 29. Also unbeknownst to Intel, Pani started working at AMD on June 2, while he was still on Intel’s payroll and still had access to Intel’s computer systems. On June 8 and June 10, Pani remotely accessed Intel’s computer system numerous times and downloaded 13 of Intel’s most valuable documents, along with other confidential and proprietary information, and a document explaining how encrypted documents could be reviewed when not connected to Intel’s computer system. Pani also backed up the downloaded files to an external hard drive for access after he left Intel.
On June 11, 2008, Pani reported to Intel for his exit interview and falsely stated that he had not retained any of Intel’s property, when, in fact, he had kept the electronic equivalent of boxes full of downloaded documents and some printed Intel documents at his apartment. They were found a month later when the FBI searched his home. Intel has valued those documents as worth $200-$400 million, at minimum.
The FBI was able to recover these documents quickly, before Pani could use them to Intel’s disadvantage, largely because Intel reported the theft quickly and assisted the investigation. AMD also cooperated with the investigation, and there was no evidence that AMD or its employees had asked Pani to take these documents or even knew that he had them. Pani nevertheless took Intel’s documents to advance his career at AMD or elsewhere by drawing on the documents when the opportunity arose, with his employer’s knowledge or not.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation-Boston Field Division made the announcement today. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adam J. Bookbinder and Scott L. Garland of Ortiz’s Cybercrimes Unit.