Judge Allows Headhunter to Delay Jail Time for Trade Secret Theft Charges

A federal judge in California has allowed a former executive headhunter to delay serving a prison sentence while appealing his conviction for theft of trade secrets, hacking, and conspiring to use proprietary information.  However, the judge also ordered the headhunter to pay a $60,000 fine immediately.

David Nosal, a former recruiter for Korn/Ferry, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for violating the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Economic Espionage Act.

Nosal was convicted by a federal jury of conspiring to gain unauthorized access to Korn/Ferry’s computer system to obtain the firm’s trade secrets.  Prosecutors said that he intended to use these materials to set up a new business.

According to the Assistant US Attorney, “At the end of the day, stealing is stealing, whether you use a crowbar or a computer.”

Nosal pleaded for probation, claiming that he had come from humble roots and worked three jobs to put himself through college.

The judge sentenced Nosal to less than the maximum prison term, but said sending him to prison would send a message to others and deter trade secret theft.

At his sentencing, Nosal said that he intended to appeal to the Ninth Circuit and that the sentence would not deter him from competing with Korn/Ferry.

Nosal was served with a federal 20-count indictment in 2008 after he convinced three of his former staff members to access Korn/Ferry’s database to obtain lists of executive candidates he wanted for his new company.   He was eventually found guilty of six of the charges.

Stay up-to-date on the latest Intellectual Property Law news from Sheldon Mak & Anderson.

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