GULFPORT -- A Gautier man has admitted he stole the computer databases of two companies after he was fired from a credit-card processing job.
Thomas Anthony Wotring pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor charge of fraudulent activities with computers.
He remains free on bond.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker will sentence Wotring on Jan. 27
Wotring, 28, faces a fine and up to a year in prison.
The databases included trade secrets and records of more than 60,000 customer transactions, according to a related lawsuit.
A federal grand jury indicted him March 18 on a similar felony charge that carries a longer prison term.
The FBI Cyber Crime Task Force arrested Wotring in April.
The U.S. Attorney's Office offered him a plea deal on the lesser charge Nov. 3. Wotring accepted the deal.
The original charge alleged he downloaded the databases for commercial advantage or private financial gain.
On the lesser charge, Wotring admitted he intentionally accessed a protected computer without authorization and downloaded confidential information.
Wotring had been hired as a consultant in 2011 to process credit cards for AM Community Net Inc., a Georgia company based in Texas, and SND Holdings LLC of New Mexico. The businesses use the Internet to sell lifestyle enhancement and personal care goods such as mango diet and colon cleansing products.
Court documents show he was fired in June 2012. He signed a confidentiality agreement and received $2,500 in severance pay.
On July 11, 2012, an AM employee noticed an export request for data and realized someone had just downloaded both businesses' databases.
Wotring's computer password had been deleted. He admitted he had memorized another password and downloaded the data but said he had destroyed the records, the lawsuit said. The businesses said they had proof Wotring had sent the data to another person.
Chief U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. issued a temporary restraining order against Wotring and anyone "acting in concert with him."
Guirola dismissed the lawsuit Nov. 26, 2012, noting Wotring had reached an agreement with the plaintiffs.
The judge ordered Wotring to destroy or turn over the data as agreed and to identify anyone else involved.
Guirola dismissed without prejudice the plaintiffs' other claims. That means the complaint could have been brought back up if Wotring did not follow through with terms of the settlement.