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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Florida

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Pensacola Jury Convicts Man For Federal Theft Of Trade Secrets And Online Extortion Of Local Company

PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – Timothy J. Smith, 42, of Mobile, Alabama, was found guilty by a federal jury
late Tuesday evening in the United States District Court in Pensacola of charges of theft of trade
secrets and interstate extortionate communications. Lawrence Keefe, United States Attorney for the
Northern District of Florida, announced the verdict today.

During trial, the jury received evidence that Smith was a software engineer in Mobile, Alabama.
StrikeLines, the victim in the case, is a Pensacola based company that uses commercial side scan
sonar equipment to locate fishing reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and sells the coordinates using an
interactive map on their website. StrikeLines also provides public coordinates for free to those
interested in finding valuable spots to fish in the Gulf.

The evidence showed that, between April and November 2018, Smith obtained private information
valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars from the local company by using sophisticated cyber
techniques in order to gain the trade secrets and decrypt information of the company from its
website. After hearing how Smith stole private sonar coordinates of reefs, the jury received
testimony and exhibits showing how Smith then tried to extort the two owners of StrikeLines for
more valuable fishing coordinates. During this entire time frame, the victims did not even know who
Smith was or why he was trying to harm them.

U.S. Attorney Keefe said: “The U.S. Attorney’s Office takes very seriously cyber crimes of all
kinds, ranging from protecting our national security to the secrets of private companies. In our
increasingly online society, cyber security is vital to all of us as we conduct Internet
transactions and conversations so that we can be confident our identities and personal information
are protected. Our office is pleased that the jury held the defendant to account for victimizing a
small local business.”

The maximum penalties Smith now faces are up to 10 years in prison for the theft of trade secrets,
and up to 2 years in prison for interstate extortionate communications.  The sentencing is
scheduled for February 18, 2020, at the United States Courthouse in Pensacola.

This case resulted from an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Federal
Bureau of Investigation, and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney
David L. Goldberg is prosecuting the case as he is the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property
Coordinator and National Security Cyber Specialist for the Northern District of Florida.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that
serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access
public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of
website.  For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern
District of Florida, visit

U.S. Attorney's Office Northern District of Florida 850-216-3845
Updated December 5, 2019