Russian National Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy To Introduce Malware Into A U.S. Company’s Computer Network
RENO, Nev. – A Massachusetts man pleaded guilty today to attempting to steal trade secrets belonging to his employer, a Nevada-based defense contractor.
According to court documents and admissions made in court, Peter James Cariani, 58, of Boston, was employed as a systems engineer by Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC). On April 7, 2015, without authority to do so, Cariani downloaded tens of thousands of electronic files from SNC’s computer network. The files contained trade secret information related to SNC’s Radar Enhanced Vision System: a unique onboard aircraft radar sensing system that displays digital images of the ground for pilots flying in zero-visibility conditions. Cariani transferred the files to a personal external hard drive, and later transmitted information derived from the files to others for potential economic benefit. When entering his guilty plea, Cariani admitted that he knowingly downloaded trade secret information from SNC’s network and he knew his actions would harm SNC. An investigation was initiated by the FBI’s Reno branch after SNC detected (and reported) that an unauthorized electronic device had been used to download files from its computer network.
“Theft of trade secret information is a federal crime and economically destructive, depriving companies of the fruits of their creativity,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Christopher Chiou for the District of Nevada. “Our office will continue to work closely with the FBI and Nevada businesses to hold accountable anyone trying to steal trade secret information from the innovative companies in our district, and to protect their sensitive business and technical information.”
“This case reminds all of our business partners of the need to be vigilant to prevent the insider threat from robbing them of their success,” said Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse for the FBI. “The FBI stands ready to protect businesses from those who would profit from stealing trade secrets as this case clearly shows.”
Cariani pleaded guilty to one count of attempted theft of trade secrets. U.S. District Judge Larry R. Hicks scheduled a sentencing hearing for August 31, 2021.
Cariani faces a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine.
This case was investigated by the Reno Resident Agency of the Las Vegas Division of the FBI with assistance from the FBI's Boston Field Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven Myhre and Randolph St. Clair are prosecuting the case.
A private sector entity that is a victim of a cyber incident can receive assistance from government agencies, which are prepared to investigate the incident, mitigate its consequences, and help prevent future incidents. Federal Government agencies work together to leverage their collective response expertise, apply their knowledge of cyber threats, preserve key evidence, and use their combined authorities and capabilities to minimize asset vulnerability and bring malicious actors to justice. Private sector entities are encouraged to report a cyber incident to the FBI at 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324) or file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov.