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Ex-Timberwolves staffer, facing burglary charge, allegedly stole hard drive with exec’s sensitive data



FILE - Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, center, works toward the basket against Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) and center Rudy Gobert, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves executive vice president of basketball operations Sachin Gupta had a hard drive with proprietary and sensitive information stolen from his office by a since-fired team employee, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in district court.

Somak Sarkar was arrested Monday by Minneapolis police and charged with third degree felony burglary by the Hennepin County Attorney’s office. The Timberwolves were not pursuing criminal charges.

Sarkar, who worked on analytics with the coaching staff, was immediately fired following the discovery of the alleged theft. He was transferred to the coaching staff last year, a change made due to job performance, according to the complaint. Prior to the switch, Gupta was Sarkar’s supervisor.

Further described in the criminal complaint: Gupta noticed the hard drive connected to his laptop was missing upon entering his office on Feb. 5. It contained personal financial information as well as business-related data that belongs to the Timberwolves, such as player contracts and strategic NBA information.

Team security reviewed surveillance video and identified Sarkar entering Gupta’s office two days earlier on a Saturday when no other employees were present and looking back as if to see if he’d been seen.

The Timberwolves, through another employee, recovered the hard drive and through outside analysis from a computer forensic company determined more than 5,000 files were accessed and downloaded onto another device.

Officers executing a search warrant at Sarkar’s home found multiple hard drives, USB drives, tablets and one computer. Police learned that one of the devices contained all of the information from Gupta’s missing hard drive. Sarkar told officers he had the hard drive in his possession to “put some stuff on it” and forgot to return it, the complaint said.

Sarkar had an initial court appearance scheduled for Thursday.

The Timberwolves, in a statement provided to The Associated Press, said they were aware of the allegations but would have no comment on an ongoing legal matter.

Gupta has been with the Timberwolves for five years, after front office jobs with Detroit, Houston and Philadelphia. The graduate of MIT also previously worked at ESPN on analytics and developed the popular NBA Trade Machine fixture for the network’s website.

Gupta oversaw Minnesota’s basketball operations during the 2021-22 season, after the firing of Gersson Rosas and before the hiring of Tim Connelly.

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