Man Sentenced After Breaking Into Fed. Building

Man Accused Of Using Son To Look For Trade Secrets

A man who enlisted his son to help him break into the La Jolla offices of a former employer to find out what it had bid on a federal building project was sentenced Tuesday to six months house-arrest and fined $5,000.

John K. Norris, 63, pleaded guilty last Nov. 6 to conspiracy to steal trade secrets.

U.S. District Judge M. James Lorenz also ordered the defendant to wear an electronic monitoring device.

Matthew Norris, 33, pleaded guilty to the same charge, but he will have his plea deferred for a year.

If he completes the terms of his plea deal, the case against him will be dismissed after a year passes, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mitch Dembin.

John K. Norris admitted in his plea that after leaving The Imperial Group -- a company that bids on U.S. General Services Administration building projects -- he established his own competing business and hired his son.

John K. Norris and Co. and The Imperial Group submitted competing bids to build and manage a structure to house an office of the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement in El Centro, Dembin said.

John K. Norris admitted he broke into his former employer's office to determine what The Imperial Group bid on the project and persuaded his son to help.

On March 23, John and Matthew Norris conducted a practice run, prosecutors said. With Matthew standing watch outside, John K. Norris took a master key from the janitor's closet and determined it would get them through the door at The Imperial Group.

On April 8, again with his son standing guard, John K. Norris used master key to get inside the offices and search for records of the bid, Dembin said.

Though they were unaware, both men were caught on surveillance video during the March 23 breach. The supervisor of the janitorial staff saw the video and reported it to The Imperial Group.

In response, company officials removed key documents concering the bid and installed a separate surveillance system.

On April 8, a hallway camera captured John K. Norris entering the hallway and janitor's closet, but he shielded his face with a piece of cardboard, Dembin said.

The Imperial Group's surveillance system, however, captured Norris rifling through their files, the prosecutor said.

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