Ex-Intel Worker Pleads Guilty to Stealing Design Documents

A former Intel Corp. engineer accused of stealing $1 billion worth of information from the chipmaker to advance his career with a competitor pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges.

Biswamohan Pani, 36, of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, today admitted to stealing “valuable computer chip manufacturing and design documents from his former employer,” according a U.S. Justice Department statement. He pleaded guilty to five fraud counts before U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor in Worcester, Massachusetts, the government said.

Pani, who worked at Santa Clara, California-based Intel’s chip-making plant in Hudson, Massachusetts, gave notice of his intent to leave on May 29, 2008, and asked that his last day of work be June 11, according to the U.S. He started at Advanced Micro Devices Inc. on June 2, while retaining access to Intel’s data system, prosecutors said.

“Unbeknownst to Intel, Pani had started downloading from Intel computers numerous secret documents about Intel’s manufacturing and design of computer chips,” the Justice Department said.

Intel put a value of $200 million to $400 million on the documents that Pani admitted to stealing and that federal agents found in his home, prosecutors said.

Reached by phone, Boston defense attorney Liam Scully, who appeared in court with Pani today, had no immediate comment on the guilty plea. Pani was charged in August 2008.

Reported Quickly

“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,” the U.S said. “AMD also cooperated with the investigation,” and there was no evidence its personnel asked Pani to take the data or knew he had it, the U.S. said.

Pani faces as long as 20 years in prison on each fraud count. Saylor scheduled sentencing for Aug. 8.

The case is U.S. v. Pani, 08-cr-40034, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Worcester).

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