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Ex-Western Asset employee arrested for computer fraud

(Updates with comment from Western Asset)

By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK, Dec 9 (Reuters) - A former Western Asset Management Co employee was arrested on Wednesday for illegally accessing one of its email accounts after joining another firm to obtain records about the company's internal metrics and employee compensation.

Kristopher Rocchio, who during the alleged wrongdoing was a vice president at Neuberger Berman, was arrested outside a gym in the New York City borough of Staten Island, a Federal Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman said.

A criminal complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan charged Rocchio with two counts of computer fraud and said his goal was to obtain a "commercial advantage and private financial gain."

Neither investment manager Neuberger Berman nor global fixed-income investment firm Western Asset was identified by name in the complaint.

But Rocchio's LinkedIn profile said he worked at Neuberger Berman from May 2013 to July 2015, the same period recited in the complaint, and Western Asset confirmed it was Rocchio's prior employer. Authorities said he worked at Western Asset from 2008 to 2012.

Western Asset spokeswoman Pia Hahn said the company is cooperating with the government's investigation. A Neuberger Berman spokesman declined to comment.

Rocchio, 38, is expected to appear in federal court later Wednesday. A lawyer for Rocchio could not be immediately identified.

According to the complaint, in February, Rocchio's former supervisor at Western Asset received a bounceback message to his email account on an email he had not personally sent.

The supervisor noticed in his "sent mail" folder two emails he had not personally sent, including one to another email address attaching a spreadsheet with compensation and performance evaluation information for various employees, the complaint said.

When the supervisor checked his sent mail folder later in the day, both messages were gone, the complaint said.

The FBI subsequently obtained a search warrant for the address that received the email and discovered it was registered to Rocchio, the complaint said.

Along with the February email, the FBI found a December 2013 email from the supervisor's account attached a PowerPoint presentation on the company's internal metrics, the complaint said.

Rocchio, then working at Neuberg Berman, subsequently forwarded that email to another employee at his current company, according to the complaint.

The case is U.S. v. Rocchio, U.S. District Court, 15-mj-4387.

(Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Andrew Hay)