NEW YORK — A former Gucci network engineer was arraigned in Manhattan Supreme Court Monday for abusing his employee discount privileges and hacking into the company’s computer system.
This story first appeared in the April 5, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Led into the courtroom in handcuffs, Sam Chihlung Yin, 34, pleaded not guilty to a 50-count charge that includes computer tampering in the first degree and other charges that resulted in more than $200,000 in damages, according to the court.
Clad in a North Face black fleece jacket, the New Jersey resident’s penchant for designer clothes wasn’t apparent, despite the allegations by assistant district attorney Ehren Reynolds that the defendant, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Taiwan, bought Gucci merchandise in bulk and shipped it overseas to Asia.
According to the complaint, the former employee of Gucci America Inc. used an account he “secretly created during his tenure at Gucci to access and control the company’s computer system, shutting down some of its servers and networks, and deleting data from others.”
Gucci provides employees with remote access to its virtual private network by attaching a USB-sized token to a computer, according to court papers. After being fired by Gucci in May 2010 for unrelated reasons, Yin allegedly took the VPN token with him. In June 2010, the former employee e-mailed members of Gucci’s IT department using a fictional identity and “tricked them” into activating his VPN token.
Yin gained “unfettered access” to Gucci’s network, according to court papers and, as a result, Gucci lost access to documents and e-mail for nearly 24 hours, while other documents and e-mails were deleted permanently. On Nov. 12, Yin allegedly accessed Gucci’s network through the VPN for a two-hour period, during which he deleted several virtual servers, shut down a storage area network and deleted a disk containing the corporate mailboxes from an e-mail server.
The judge denied the DA’s request to set bail at $25,000, due in part to Yin’s spotless record.
The former Gucci employee was released on his own recognizance and is set to reappear in court on May 31.
The most serious of the charges, first-degree computer tampering, is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.