Ex-Boeing employee on trial

March 26, 2008 at 7:57 PM

SEATTLE, March 26 (UPI) -- A former longtime Boeing employee is on trial in Seattle, accused of taking private company information and leaking it to the media.

If convicted on the 16 counts of first-degree computer trespass, Gerald Eastman, 46, faces up to 4 3/4 years in prison, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Wednesday. The trial, which commenced Tuesday, is expected to last about two weeks.

The ex-assembly inspector is accused of downloading thousands of company files without authorization, the newspaper said. He allegedly funneled that information to the media because of his concerns about assembly-line inspection procedures at the aircraft company's Tukwila plant, the Post-Intelligencer reported.

Eastman, an 18-year company employee who was arrested in May 2006, had informed the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration of those concerns.

But rather than being a whistleblower, senior deputy prosecutor Scott Peterson contends Eastman was a disgruntled worker who took information having to do with sales projections, new business ventures and design information that competitors such as Airbus "would like to know."

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