Charges: Timberwolves exec's hard drive stolen with ‘strategic NBA information’ on it

The head of the Minnesota Timberwolves' analytics department had his work hard drive holding sensitive strategic team information stolen from his Target Center office and copied last month by a disgruntled underling, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday.

Sachin Gupta got the hard drive back a little more than a week later but not before roughly 5,700 files were copied that held employment and player contracts, "as well as strategic NBA information." Also on the hard drive were Gupta's tax returns and other financial information, and his login and passwords from a password management app, the complaint read.

As head of the analytics department, Gupta would have sensitive and proprietary data in his possession that the Wolves would conceal from other teams, like information about players and decision-making, contracts or trade negotiations. The dissemination of information of that nature to other teams could be damaging to the on-court success of the Wolves in the highly competitive NBA.

The team fired Somak Sarkar, 33, after learning of the hard drive's disappearance. He was arrested Monday and charged in Hennepin County District Court with felony third-degree burglary. Sarkar remains jailed in lieu of $40,000 bail ahead of a court appearance Thursday afternoon. Court records do not yet list an attorney for him.

Questioned by police after his arrest, Sarkar said that as a member of the coaching staff he had Gupta's hard drive to "put some stuff on it" but forgot to return it, according to the complaint.

The team released a statement to the Star Tribune that it's "aware of these allegations and will have no further comment as it is an ongoing legal matter."

Sarkar has been in NBA front offices since he interned with the Houston Rockets in 2012 while on his way to graduating in 2013 from Rice University, according to the Texas school's Department of Sports Management. He landed his first permanent job in NBA with the New Orleans Pelicans later that year as a strategic analyst, a Rice online profile noted.

His online professional profile said he then spent a year with the New York Knicks before joining the Wolves in August 2021.

Details of the suspected theft are spelled out in the complaint and a search warrant affidavit filed by police seeking court permission to look for evidence in Sarkar's apartment near Target Center, including the discovery of any "monies to show profit of the sale of the stolen financial information and proprietary Timberwolves information."

A search of the apartment turned up several hard drives, a computer, three tablets and multiple USB drives, the complaint read. Police then determined that one of the devices "contained all the information from [Gupta's] hard drive."

According to the court documents, Gupta met with police on March 4 and said Sarkar had worked in analytics for the coaches until last summer but was reassigned after "butting heads" with his immediate superior, incorrectly entering computer coding and missing meetings.

Gupta told Sarkar of the transfer over a beer. Gupta said he thought the news went down well, but that Sarkar became standoffish from then on.

On Feb. 2, Gupta left his hard drive on his desk connected to one of his two laptops. Late in the afternoon of Feb. 3, a Saturday, security video captured Sarkar entering Gupta's office. He then exited, looked around, went back into the office and left a minute later.

Gupta came back to work on Feb. 5 and saw his hard drive was missing.

On Feb. 9, Sarkar was fired without explanation and escorted by security from the building.

An analysis of Sarkar's work computer found that he used his device to open Gupta's hard drive.

On Feb. 12, a friend of Sarkar's who is also a Wolves employee got the hard drive and brought it to Gupta. A forensic analysis revealed that 1,200 files were copied on Feb. 11 in one instance and another 4,500 later that same day.

"Gupta is concerned that Sarkar is going to disseminate the proprietary Timberwolves information and his private information," one of the court documents reads.

Gupta came to the Wolves in 2019 when then-President Gersson Rosas brought him aboard as executive vice president, the front office's No. 2 position. Rosas was hired in May 2019.

After the team fired Rosas in September 2021, Gupta became the interim head of basketball operations for the 2021-22 season.

The team did not hire Gupta for that role permanently and instead chose Tim Connelly from Denver in May 2022. Gupta has remained with the Wolves as executive president since then, leading the analytics department under Connelly.

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