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Former software executive admits stealing trade secrets

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The former chief executive of a software company has pleaded guilty to federal charges of stealing a rival's trade secrets.

John J. O'Neil, ex-CEO of Business Engine Software Corp., pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to steal trade secrets and interstate transportation of stolen property, said Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Sonderby.

O'Neil, 43, the third Business Engine Software executive to plead guilty in the case, faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 17. Robert McKimmey, the company's former chief technology officer, and William McMenamin, a former executive vice president, will face sentencing on the same day.

O'Neil admitted that he conspired over a 10-month period to illegally access the computer network of rival Niku Corp. in order to steal trade secrets, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

O'Neil then transmitted the stolen material to other Business Engine Software officers and employees so the company could gain a competitive advantage over Niku, which has since been acquired by Computer Associates International Inc. for $350 million.

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