By  on October 28, 2008

Federal prosecutors charged two former employees of fashion trade show organizer ENK International with conspiracy Monday after the pair allegedly tried to steal confidential business information.

A complaint filed in the U.S. Court in Manhattan said Morgan Gantt, 24, of Jersey City, N.J., used company computers in August to send former colleague Jeffrey White, 27, of Brooklyn, information about hundreds of retail buyers and trade show guests after White had been fired the previous month for insubordination.

Prosecutors said an investigation revealed that Gantt, a project coordinator, received text messages from White, an assistant show coordinator, on her ENK-provided Blackberry. The messages instructed her to e-mail him spreadsheets from computers at ENK’s New York office to his personal e-mail account and to download them to a USB storage device.

The complaint said ENK fired Gantt on Aug. 21 after it discovered she was using the company’s resources to operate a temporary fashion show employment agency for her own gain during work hours. The complaint notes said that, as Gantt packed her belongings, her employers saw her remove a USB device from her computer, which she refused to turn over. The company then conducted a forensic analysis of Gantt’s computer and Blackberry, which uncovered her communications with White, prosecutors said.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York charged Gantt and White with one count each of conspiracy to commit unauthorized computer access and conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets. White surrendered Monday and federal authorities expect Gantt will surrender today. Each defendant faces a maximum 11-year sentence if convicted, prosecutors said.

Attorneys for Gantt and White did not return calls seeking comment, and ENK declined to comment.

The company filed a separate civil complaint against both defendants in September accusing each of theft of “its client contacts, pricing information and other client confidences.”

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