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Ex-Wolves analyst avoids jail for computer crime

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Published in Basketball
Tuesday, 09 July 2024 18:07

An ex-Minnesota Timberwolves employee was sentenced Tuesday on a gross misdemeanor charge of unauthorized computer access, according to court records reviewed by ESPN, after admittedly taking a hard drive containing thousands of internal files, including "strategic NBA information," from a Timberwolves team executive.

As part of a plea deal reached with prosecutors in late June, Somak Sarkar, 33, who previously served as a coaching analyst for the Timberwolves, won't serve any jail time, his attorney Ryan Pacyga told ESPN. A Minnesota judge on Tuesday ordered Sarkar to serve probation for up to two years and pay a fine of $200.

Sarkar previously pled guilty to taking the hard drive in exchange for having a third-degree felony burglary charge dismissed and to avoid any jail time, Pacyga said.

A request for comment from the Timberwolves wasn't immediately returned. In a late June statement, the team said, "The Minnesota Timberwolves will not be commenting on legal proceedings related to former employees."

Previously, a source told ESPN that the team wouldn't pursue criminal charges against Sarkar.

According to the initial complaint, Sachin Gupta, a Timberwolves executive vice president who oversees the team's analytics department, left a hard drive connected to a laptop in his office at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis on Feb. 2.

That drive contained Gupta's personal financial information as well as private information for the team, including employment and player contracts.

When Gupta returned to work on Feb. 5, the hard drive was missing, and subsequent surveillance reviewed by security revealed that Sarkar had twice entered Gupta's office on Feb. 3 "after looking to see if anyone could see him," the complaint stated. "He then left."

Sarkar was fired immediately, the complaint stated.

Another employee was able to recover the hard drive from Sarkar, and the team determined, after a forensic analysis, that he had accessed more than 5,000 files and downloaded them onto another device. Sarkar was arrested, and police executed a search warrant at his home, where they found several hard drives, a computer and three tablets. A second warrant revealed that one of the devices contained information from Gupta's hard drive.

When questioned by police, Sarkar said at the time that, as a member of the coaching staff, he had the hard drive "to put some stuff on it," but he forgot to return it.

"At the time that Mr. Sarkar took the team-issued external hard drive, he was completely unaware that it contained an executive's personal information." Pacyga said in a statement to ESPN on Tuesday. "This caused panic and the situation escalated quickly. Mr. Sarkar meant no harm to the Timberwolves organization. He wishes the team organization continued success, and he has taken steps to better himself through this process as well as make amends. He is a bright young man with a solid set of skills. This process has been painful but he is determined to come out of it a better man and use his skills to help others."

Pacyga told ESPN that no one else had access to the information on the hard drive.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Sarkar joined the Timberwolves in August 2021 and previously worked in analytics-related roles at the New York Knicks and the New Orleans Pelicans. He also worked as a basketball operations intern for the Houston Rockets from October 2012 to June 2013.

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