Wednesday, March 18, 2009, 3/18/2009 11:08:00 AM

Boston-Based Telecom Firm Alleges Trade Secret Theft By Employee

By Todd

Granite Telecommunications filed a complaint in Massachusetts federal court last week against Stephen Levee, a former employee in Granite’s Atlanta office who was fired last month, and Telesource Consulting LLC, a firm that Granite claims was using the information to divert existing and potential customers away from Granite.

In the lawsuit, Granite claims Levee had been improperly accessing customer account data and leaking it to Telesource for at least three years. Telesource would earn a commission if a customer left Granite for another telecom provider and would then give a portion of that commission to Levee, according to Granite’s lawsuit.

In one example cited in the suit, Logan’s Roadhouse left Granite to get phone services from Bullseye Telecom, a competitor of Granite’s. Logan’s, a restaurant chain based in Nashville with nearly 200 locations, represented about $420,000 in annual revenue for Granite.
Granite claims Levee gave confidential information about Logan’s to Granite before Logan’s switched to Bullseye.

Rand Currier, Granite’s chief operating officer, said he learned about the conspiracy last month. He said he flew to Atlanta to fire Levee after Granite’s information technology staff verified that Levee was leaking confidential data.

“When we heard about it, for someone who had been here for years, we were shocked,” Currier said. “It’s very disappointing.”

Levee, a Georgia resident who joined Granite not long after the company was launched in 2002, declined to comment about the lawsuit. Telesource, which is based in Atlanta, couldn’t be reached for comment.

A representative for Bullseye, which was not named as a defendant in the suit, said the company couldn’t comment because it wasn’t familiar with the suit.

Granite is asking a judge for an order that would block Levee or Telesource from further using confidential information regarding Granite’s clients. Granite also wants to be compensated for its lost revenue.

“We’re going to put every resource we can into making sure he pays back every penny he’s capable of paying back of what we lost,” Currier said.

Granite has been one of the South Shore’s fastest-growing employers. The company, which started seven years ago, currently employs about 700 people and collected about $360 million in revenue last year. It specializes in wholesaling phone service for companies with locations in multiple states.

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