'Butting heads' | Timberwolves employee charged with stealing EVP's hard drive was earlier transferred for poor performance

Timberwolves employee charged with stealing EVP's hard drive was earlier transferred for poor performance

A disgruntled former Minnesota Timberwolves employee has been charged with allegedly stealing a hard drive from a team executive and copying around 5,700 files.

The charges accuse the ex-staffer, Somak Sarkar, of stealing documents that included sensitive data such as employment and player contracts, and “strategic NBA information.” Sarkar had previously worked under the EVP, but was transferred due to poor performance.

EVP, Sachin Gupta, who heads out the Timberwolves’ analytics department, discovered the hard drive had disappeared from his office.

Gupta then reviewed surveillance footage that reportedly showed Sarkar entering the office and stealing the hard drive. The team then fired Sarkar.

Another employee retrieved the hard drive from Sarkar, and the Timberwolves sent it to be analyzed alongside his laptop.

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An analysis found that the work laptop “was used to open some of the files on the hard drive,” per the complaint, which also claims that “over 5,000 files had been accessed and downloaded onto another device."

According to the investigation, the police secured a warrant to search Sarkar’s apartment, near the Target Center offices, and found a device that “contained all the information from  [Gupta's] hard drive.”

Sarkar was questioned by the police and claims he took the hard drive to “put some stuff on it,” and simply forgot to return it.

The Timberwolves’ EVP had reassigned the employee over poor performance

Sarkar joined the Minnesota Timberwolves as a coaching analyst, liaising between coaching staff and the analytics department.

He originally worked under Gupta, reporting to the analytics department. However, according to court documents, Gupta told Sarkar he was being reassigned after "butting heads" with his superior over missed meetings and computer coding mistakes.

Sarkar allegedly became standoffish after being transferred.

The complaint includes a note that “Gupta is concerned that Sarkar is going to disseminate the proprietary Timberwolves information and his private information.”

Sarkar was arrested on March 18 and is scheduled for a court appearance on March 21, having been charged with felony third-degree burglary in Hennepin County District Court.

A week of major employee theft

This is not the only case of alleged employee theft to hit a major U.S. sports franchise. On March 20, Los Angeles Dodgers fired the long-time interpreter of Shohei Ohtani, one of their star players, after accusing him of theft connected to illegal gambling.

Per ESPN, over $4.5million was paid to a bookmaker by Ohtani’s bank. In his most recent interview, Ippei Mizuhara, interpreter and friend of Ohtani, says Ohtani had no idea about the transcation.

In a statement, Ohtani’s lawyers say they “discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft” and are “turning the matter over to the authorities." 

The cases aren’t limited to the world of sports, however.

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has accused a former employee of stealing thousands of confidential documents. The worker allegedly took the files, including details on commercial strategies, to a similar job at Pfizer.

The employee had worked for Johnson & Johnson since 1999 and is accused of downloading a 10-year business plan, details of relationships with distributors, and clinical studies among other documents.

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