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Former Columbia Sportswear employee pleads guilty to accessing company’s network

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A former Columbia Sportswear employee pleaded guilty to illegally accessing the company’s network after leaving for another job.

Michael Leeper, 41, of Tigard, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Portland on Wednesday.

The Department of Justice reported that Leeper was employed by Columbia from May 2000 to February 2014, becoming the company’s director of technical infrastructure in 2012.

In March 2014, Leeper resigned and began working for an information technology vendor. Investigators said Leeper continued to access Columbia Sportswear’s network on a regular basis, viewing commercially valuable and private information.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Oregon Cyber Task Force.

“Unauthorized computer intrusion is a serious crime, and those that unlawfully gain sensitive or proprietary information must be held accountable for their illegal conduct,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon.

Leeper faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. He will be sentenced on Dec. 7.

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