This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
One of the founders of S5 Wireless has been acquitted of charges that he illegally intercepted e-mails after he left the Sandy-based company over disputes with other executives.
On Jan. 18, at the end of a five-day trial, a jury in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City found William "Kurt" Dobson not guilty of two counts of violating the federal Wiretap Act and one count of unauthorized access of a protected computer.
Defense attorney Peter Stirba said the verdict exonerates Dobson.
"It never was a righteous prosecution," he said. "It wasn't an issue of criminality."
Instead, Stirba said, the matter involved disagreements between Dobson and another executive over issues such as disclosures to shareholders.
Dobson, who was chief technology officer and a director of S5 Wireless, founded the high-tech startup with two others in early 2003.
The enterprise began developing a wireless tracking technology that would use radio frequencies to track the location of packages or even people. The technology, which is now being tested in the Salt Lake Valley, uses an electronic chip that can be tracked by cell phone towers.
Less than two years after starting the company, in October 2004, Dobson resigned over business disagreements. An indictment issued by a federal grand jury in 2006 alleged that a week later he used his work password to access the computer that hosted S5's e-mail and created a new mailbox.
He then sent the server instructions to place copies of each incoming e-mail addressed to two top S5 executives in the new mailbox, according to the indictment. It claims Dobson then read the messages for "commercial advantage and private financial gain."
The defense countered that Dobson was a director of S5 at the time and that the two executives had expressly consented through employment agreements to the monitoring of their e-mail by the company. Dobson accessed the company server with a valid password and had the authority to monitor the messages, his attorneys wrote in a pretrial brief.
"Finally, the evidence will show that Dobson was motivated by concerns of a fiduciary nature, and not for commercial advantage, or any unlawful purpose," the brief says.
Dobson, who holds 45 patents, is now developing technology in the fight against skin cancer and in the development of a better artificial heart, according to his attorneys.