By Jay Fitzgerald
Tuesday, August 24, 2004

A vindictive software programmer upset about his cancelled contract snuck into Varian Semiconductor Equipment Associates Inc.’s computer system and zapped out e-commerce coding he and others had been developing, U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan charged yesterday.

     Patrick Angle, 34, now of Columbus, Ind., was hit with one charge of intentionally damaging a protected computer system, Sullivan’s office said yesterday.

     Angle and his attorney could not be reached for comment yesterday.

     According to Sullivan’s office, Angle became “disgruntled” with Varian after working as a full-time employee and then later as an independent contractor.

     Angle started working for Varian in 2001, moving his family from Indiana to New Hampshire, where he regularly commuted to Varian’s headquarters in Gloucester. His job: developing Varian’s e-commerce software that would allow the firm to conduct business with its vendors.

     Angle later moved back to Indiana, with the intention of performing his duties via the Internet from his Midwest home. But Varian made him a contract employee without benefits, a move Angle “resented” and believed violated agreements, Sullivan’s office said.

     He was told last September his contract would be terminated. Nine days later, Sullivan’s office said, Angle logged into Varian’s computer system from his home and deleted the coding he had been developing with others and tried covering his cyber tracks by altering computer logs.

     The action was to “vent his frustration with Varian,” prosecutors said.

     The software code was later retrieved “at great expense,” costing Varian $26,455, Sullivan’s office said.

      A spokesman for Varian could not be reached for comment.

     If convicted, Angle faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

      Sullivan’s office has been aggressively pursuing computer hackers.