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Password Problem Costs Company

December 30, 1997

CLYMER, Pa. (AP) _ A chemical company is keeping records by hand during a dispute with a former programmer accused of locking managers out of a critical database.

Marty Medvetz, 26, is awaiting a hearing Wednesday on a charge of unlawful use of a computer. Authorities say he refuses to give up a password that would give the company access to its own records.

Medvetz recently left Space Chemical, about 60 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, to join U.S. Chemical in Brookfield, Wis.

Police said Space Chemical, which makes cleaning supplies, hired a consultant to review computers with Medvetz, but Medvetz would not turn over the password to the company records unless he was paid $3,000.

``He told the guy, `No, I’m not going to give you this. I’ll only do that for a fee,‴ said D.W. Smith, the company’s president, who estimates the problem has cost the company $44,000.

The next day, he was escorted out of company offices in Green Township.

Medvetz had no comment.

Medvetz had used File Maker Pro software to create a database of files listing hundreds of Space’s products. The company is consulting the makers of File Maker Pro to try to solve the problem.

``All their information is in that computer _ everything they need to function, all their literature on their chemicals that they produce,″ state Trooper Kevin Foley said.

The database also includes information on the hazards of using each product.

Police said Medvetz created computer ``time bombs″ _ programs that lock customers out of databases that can be read over telephone lines. The programs are starting to take effect now, Smith said.

The charge against Medvetz has a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. Medvetz began working at the company as a chemist in 1995.

``We didn’t really feel he would do something like that,″ said Sherri Delo, the firm’s vice president of operations. ``We’re a small company. We’re like a family here.″

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