SAN DIEGO – A father and son pleaded guilty on Tuesday to breaking in to an office where the father formerly worked to steal trade secrets they used to bid on a contract of the Department of Homeland Security. John and Matthew Norris admitted breaking in to the office of The Imperial Group in La Jolla.
John Norris, 63, left The Imperial Group to set up his own firm, John Norris & Co., with his son, Matthew, 33. The two companies submitted competing bids to build and manage a DHS office for Immigrations, Customs and Enforcement in El Centro, federal prosecutors said.
John Norris admitted in a plea bargain that he decided to break into Imperial’s offices to find out what they had bid, and persuaded his son to help him. They made a “practice run” in March, with a key John Norris had swiped from a janitor’s closet. In April they did it again, but the practice run had been caught on a surveillance camera, and Imperial removed the documents Norris sought and installed a second surveillance system, which caught him rifling files, looking for the document.
John Norris faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 for conspiring to steal trade secrets at his Jan. 28 sentencing. His son received deferred adjudication for a year; if he complies with his agreement, charges against him will be dismissed.