Scientist pleads guilty to stealing company's formulas
SALT LAKE CITY -- A scientist accused of stealing secret formulas from a Utah chemistry company has pleaded guilty to a federal computer charge.
Prabhu Mohapatra entered the plea Friday in U.S. District Court to one count of unlawful access to a protected computer, in exchanged for prosecutors dropping 25 other charges against him, the Deseret News reported.
Mohapatra, 42, had worked for North Logan-based Frontier Scientific Inc. from 2009 to 2011. He admitted to accessing a company chemical resource notebook and emailing the formula for meso-Tetraphenylporphine, or TPP, to his brother-in-law in India.
Investigators say that relative was setting up a competing company to undercut Frontier Scientific on prices it charges for pharmaceutical chemicals. Frontier Chemical, which supplies chemicals for research and drug discovery, says no other company in the world produces TPP in such large quantities.
The case marked the first time federal authorities filed industrial espionage charges in Utah, according to FBI officials. Until 1996, the theft of trade secrets wasn't a federal crime, and the FBI had spotty success trying to prosecute such cases using other statutes.