Company Claims Worker Snooped on it

MANHATTAN (CN) – Bayrock Group, a real estate development and investment firm, claims an employee installed spyware on company computers that gave him access to every workstation, then disclosed and disseminated “highly sensitive, confidential and proprietary information.”

     Bayrock sued Joshua Bernstein, whom it hired as a financial analyst in November 2006. Bayrock says Bernsetein also provided it with tech support until he was fired in September 2008.
     In its federal complaint, Bayrock claims Bernstein had an IT support vendor install the spyware, and that he signed the purchase order and concealed the installation from management.
     “Unbeknownst to and without the approval of his superiors, Bernstein installed spyware on Bayrock’s computers that enabled him to view (even remotely, i.e. from outside the Bayrock office), download and record files, emails, website views and even keystrokes of every Bayrock employee,” according to the complaint (parenthesis in original).
     “Then upon his termination, Bernstein absconded with, in his own sworn words, ‘thousands’ of documents (both hard copy and electronic) – documents that he retains possession of to this day.”
     Bayrock says Bernstein also took his computer hard drive, a company BlackBerry and other equipment, which he has refused to return.
     Bayrock claims Bernstein obtained financial information, matters of attorney-client privilege and personal communications through his “unauthorized, disloyal and fraudulent conduct.” It claims Bernstein has “disseminated information he obtained to third parties and has publicly disclosed information.”
     Bernstein sued Bayrock in Westchester Supreme Court last year, claiming it owed him money for his work. Bayrock says he revealed in a deposition that he took the documents.
     “As he has admitted under oath, following his termination Bernstein retained or took with him ‘thousands’ of emails and ‘hundreds’ of paper documents belonging to Bayrock,” according to the complaint.
     Bayrock says Bernstein released the information to his then-attorney Frederick Oberlander, who sued Bayrock on behalf of two former employees and included excerpts from the documents in a 164-page complaint.
     “When alerted to the fact that references to sealed criminal case documents had been quoted in and attached to pleadings in a civil case, this court immediately ordered the sealing of the complaint and enjoined its further dissemination,” according to Bayrock’s complaint.
     Bayrock seeks statutory and punitive damages for conversion, breach of fiduciary duty and violations of the computer fraud and wiretap acts. It also wants its hardware and documents returned.
     Bayrock is represented by Walter Saurack with Satterlee Stephens Burke & Burke.

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