Friday, February 13, 2009, 2/13/2009 09:34:00 AM

Islamorada Marine Services Worker Accused of Stealing Secrets - Providing to Boyfriend

By Todd
Apparently down in the Florida Keys they prefer to use the local sheriff, instead of the FBI, to investigate trade secret theft.

An employee of a marine services company on Plantation Key is accused of stealing trade secrets from her workplace and giving them to her boyfriend, a potential competitor of the business.

According to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, Gwendolyn Russell, 45, was diverting price estimates and other quotes from Atlantic Davits & Boatlifts of the Keys so her boyfriend could submit lower quotes for the work in order to win potential customers.

The owner of Atlantic Davits, James Annesser, told investigators that Russell's boyfriend has a manufacturing company in Fort Myers and was planning to open a rival business in the Keys.

Annesser initially contacted authorities on Jan. 29, complaining that Russell was e-mailing her boyfriend with propriety information and had removed from the office a binder about boat specifications that had taken his employees more than 500 hours to compile.

A search warrant was served Thursday at Russell's Venetian Way home in Islamorada where numerous computers and other electronic equipment were seized for further investigation, according to sheriff's officials.

The sheriff's office says Russell turned herself in Thursday evening and was booked on the felony charges of offenses against intellectual property and trade secrets, theft, embezzlement and unlawful copying.

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