Friday, June 5, 2020

Unauthorized Computer Access Draws Reprimand

The New Jersey Supreme Court has reprimanded an attorney for criminal conduct 

The Disciplinary Review Board described the conduct, which involved a dispute with the attorney's in laws

 In 2009, respondent graduated from law school and accepted a position as General Counsel to Marine Transport Logistics (MTL), a shipping company owned by his parents-in-law, Alla and Alex Solovyeva. Because MTL required little legal work, respondent’s role morphed, in 2011, into Director of Operations. In that capacity, respondent traveled internationally, soliciting shipping clients for MTL. He was compensated via a one-third commission on all profits that he generated.

At some point, the Solovyevas agreed to sell MTL to respondent, but, ultimately, they reneged on that agreement. They also stopped paying respondent his earned commissions. Consequently, in 2014, while still working for MTL, and without his parents-in-law’s knowledge, respondent incorporated his own company, Prestige Shipping.

The in laws sued him after his departure and filed a criminal complaint

In respect of the computer crimes charges, respondent admitted that, subsequent to leaving MTL’s employ, he had, on several occasions, improperly used the login credential of existing MTL employee to access a database of shipping information on "INFOX@USA" (INFO), a subscription-based service that MTL paid for in connection with its shipping operations. MTL had deleted respondent’s INFO credentials upon his departure, but he knew other employees’ login credentials because, as the former Director of Operations, he had created them. Respondent maintained that he had covertly accessed INFO solely in order to calculate the commissions owed to him, in connection with the civil litigation between him and MTL. Respondent conceded, however, that his actions were illegal and in violation of RPC 8.4(b) and (c).

He completed a pretrial intervention program.


Here, respondent stipulated to the RPC violations and has no prior discipline in ten years at the bar. Although his case presents no aggravating factors independent of the underlying misconduct, we consider that he repeatedly engaged in the unauthorized, covert access to the subscription database, via MTL’s employees’ credentials, knowing that he was not authorized to do so. On balance, we determine that a reprimand is the appropriate quantum of discipline necessary to protect the public and preserve confidence in the bar.

(Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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