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Bakery Owner Accused of Stealing Recipes

June 30, 2003

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The owner of a small North Carolina pita company got inside a suburban Philadelphia bakery by passing himself off as a production-line supervisor and stole the business’ secret recipes, authorities say.

Mazen Fathi Said is accused of making off with two three-ring binders containing 66 recipes from the Morabito Baking Co. in Norristown.

Said, 30, was arrested last week at his Greensboro, N.C., business, Famous Pita Bakery, and was jailed on $2 million bail. He is wanted in Pennsylvania on theft of trade secrets and related charges.

A man who answered the phone at Famous Pita identified himself as Said’s brother and said Said had been ``set up.″ He said his brother was targeted in part because of his Middle Eastern background.

Said entered Morabito Baking five times over two days, videotaping the interior, stealing a lab coat and a hairnet, and pretending during the final visit to inspect rolls on the production line, authorities said.

Michael Morabito, the bakery’s plant manager, said Said told employees that he had received permission to be there at 3:40 a.m.

``I wouldn’t even let my cousins in the plant″ at that time, Morabito said, adding that Said was intent on copying the company’s recipe for hoagie rolls.

The alleged theft was captured on surveillance videotape. Greensboro police said investigators compared the image on the tape with his North Carolina driver’s license and a mug shot from a previous arrest.

A Morabito employee later told police that Said, identifying himself as ``Mike,″ offered to pay for his flight if the employee would teach him how to make a certain type of roll. Authorities allege that Said made a similar offer by telephone to another employee on June 18.

Detectives recovered the two missing binders.

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