Contractor convicted of spying on former company

BD exec tapped into former firm's computer systems

A business development executive at a government contracting firm has been found guilty of spying on his former employer.

Robert Edwin Steele, 38, of Alexandria, Va., was convicted of 14 counts of unauthorized access to a protected computer.

According to a statement by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Steele left one company in December 2010, but kept a secret administrative account, and used that to download hundreds of proprietary documents from his former company.

The U.S. attorney’s office did not release the names of the companies Steele worked for, and a company contacted by Washington Technology as one of the possible employers did not return emails.

Steele had given his former company written and verbal assurances that he would not access its systems after he left. He urged them to shut down his existing accounts, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

At his new company, Steele was director of law enforcement, and worked on bids for contracts. In one competition, he undercut his former company by $100,000 while downloading documents. He still lost the competition, according to government statement.

However, he continued to enter the company’s systems, and the government alleges he accessed the system 79,000 times between Dec. 15, 2010, and Sept. 2, 2011.

The FBI investigated the case with help from the General Services Administration’s inspector general’s office.

Steele was indicted in December of two misdemeanor charges and 12 felonies. Each misdemeanor carries a possible one-year sentence and each felony as a maximum of five years each.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

Reader Comments

Tue, May 14, 2013 Reader

Residents of the Overlook, where Robert was President of the HOA, are really glad he's gone. That's all I'm saying.

Mon, May 13, 2013

Robert was a very good guy to work with - I am sorry he is caught up in this. But if SRA knew he had access before he left, why didn't they bother to change their passwords? Aren't they supposedly a cyber security provider to the Government? How good can they be if they can't protect thier own network?

Mon, May 13, 2013

Worked with him for years - not one bit surprised. Glad justice is being served.

Thu, May 9, 2013

He worked for a security services company.

Thu, May 9, 2013

Very sad to hear about this. I knew Robert and worked with him. You could always trust that he would do what he said he was going to do. He went the extra mile for others. This activity is wrong, of course, but it is sad to see someone with a good heart get caught up in it.

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