Utah scientist pleads guilty to computer crime

By Stephen Hunt

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: May 14, 2012 10:26PM
Updated: August 28, 2012 11:33PM

A scientist indicted in U.S. District Court for allegedly emailing trade secrets from a Utah chemical company to an associate in India has pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful access to a protected computer.

The case against Prabhu Mohapatra, 42, of North Logan, marks the first time an industrial espionage case has been filed against a Utah defendant, according to the FBI.

In exchange for Mohapatra’s plea, 25 other charges were dismissed, including those related to the theft of trade secrets.

He faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 28 by Judge Clark Waddoups.

A senior scientist at Logan’s Frontier Scientific Inc., Mohapatra admitted accessing a company computer to obtain the chemical recipe for Meso-tetraphenylporphine, according to court documents.

He then sent the recipe to a person employed by a competing company, according to the initial indictment.

Mohapatra, who worked at Frontier Scientific from 2009 to 2011, was caught after a co-worker noticed suspicious behavior and reported it to management, court documents state.