FBI San Francisco
Public Affairs Specialist Prentice Danner
(415) 558-2511
September 3, 2015

Former Tesla Engineer Charged with Computer Intrusion

Nima Kalbasi, a 28-year-old Canadian citizen, appeared in U.S. District Court on August 27, 2015, after being arrested on an indictment for two counts of felony computer intrusion, and one count of misdemeanor computer intrusion.

According to the indictment, Kalbasi, a former mechanical engineer for Tesla Motors—an electric automobile manufacturing company headquartered in Palo Alto, California—allegedly gained unauthorized access to his former manager’s Tesla Motors e-mail account and obtained communications involving employee evaluations and other confidential information. Subsequent to obtaining this information, Kalbasi released the employee evaluations to other Tesla Motors employees and posted the confidential information on a public website. Once posted, Kalbasi then tried to harm Tesla’s reputation and credibility by making false and misleading comments.

On August 24, 2015, Kalbasi was arrested in Derby Line, Vermont by Customs and Border Protection as he crossed the border into the United States. Following his arrest, Kalbasi made his initial appearance in federal court in San Jose on August 27, 2015, before Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal.

If convicted, Kalbasi faces—in part—a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the felony charges and one year in prison for the misdemeanor charge. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence.

The case is being prosecuted by the Computer Hacking/Intellectual Property Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, San Jose.