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Ex-Morgan Stanley Advisor Pleads Guilty to Taking Data

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A fired Morgan Stanley financial advisor who downloaded client data to a home server pleaded guilty to accessing the bank’s computer network without permission.

Galen Marsh, 31, transferred confidential information on 730,000 customer accounts to a private server in his Hoboken, New Jersey, home from June 2011 to December 2014, according to prosecutors. Account information about 900 clients was found on an external website, Morgan Stanley said in January.

“I was using it to be better at my job,” Marsh told U.S. District Judge Kevin Duffy in Manhattan Monday. “But I wasn’t trying to sell it or make money with it or anything like that.”

Marsh didn’t post the information online or share it with anyone, defense lawyer Robert C. Gottlieb has previously said. The data was promptly removed from the external site, the bank has said.

Marsh, who is free on a $200,000 bond, faces as long as five years in prison when he’s sentenced Dec. 7. He said in court that he and a co-worker were being recruited by two other broker-dealer firms.

There was no discussion in the hearing as to how client information found its way to the external website.

Marsh, who joined the bank in 2008 and worked in New York, said he cooperated with Morgan Stanley in its investigation. Marsh conducted about 6,000 unauthorized searches on the bank’s computer system, according to the government. The information he took included client names, addresses, telephone numbers, account numbers, fixed-income investment information and account values.

 In a statement Monday, Morgan Stanley said that Marsh’s guilty plea “makes clear that misuse of client account information will not be tolerated.” Information from about 350,000 clients was at issue, the firm has said.

Marsh agreed to forfeit $600,000 to reimburse Morgan Stanley for its investigation. He must also forfeit computer hardware used in the crime.

The case is U.S. v. Marsh, 15-cr-00641, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).