Crime

Fired worker fined for downloading company databases

Thomas Anthony Wotring
Thomas Anthony Wotring

GULFPORT -- A Jackson County man has been fined $2,000 and given two years' probation for stealing the databases of two companies after he was fired from his job as a credit-card processor.

The password Thomas Anthony Wotring used had been disabled, but he remembered a different password and downloaded the companies' customer databases.

Wotring, 29, was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court for downloading information from a protected computer without authorization. Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker sentenced him on a guilty plea involving his July 11, 2012, downloads.

A federal grand jury had indicted Wotring on a felony charge. The U.S. Attorney's Office offered him a lesser charge following an FBI investigation and the resolution of a related lawsuit.

AM Computing Net Inc., of Georgia, had hired Wotring in 2011 to handle creditcard-processing services for its company and for SND Holdings LLC of New Mexico. The companies sell lifestyle goods online such as mango diet and colon cleanse products.

Wotring was fired in June 2012 and received $2,500 severance pay for signing a confidentiality agreement, according to the related lawsuit.

Weeks later, an AM employee noticed an export request for data and realized someone had just downloaded the businesses' databases of customer transactions.

The businesses sued him and obtained a temporary restraining order that prohibited him from using, sharing or deleting the data, which included trade secrets and private information about customers, the order said.

Chief U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola dismissed the civil case Nov. 26, 2012, after the companies reached an agreement with Wotring.

A grand jury indicted him on a felony charge March 18, 2015, after investigation by an FBI Cyber Task Force in Jackson. He was arrested weeks later and was released on bond pending trial.

Plea negotiations led to the misdemeanor charge. Guirola has dismissed Wotring's indictment.

The felony accused him of downloading protected information for commercial advantage and financial gain. The misdemeanor did not accuse him of trying to profit from the downloads.

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