Former Walmart Employee Sentenced For Stealing Company Secrets

John Stan Harmon

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) — A former Walmart employee was given two-years probation and fined $4,900 for stealing the retailer’s data and supplying it to his next employer.

John Stan Harmon was sentenced Wednesday (Oct. 10) in U.S. District Court on one count of theft of trade secrets.

“We take the protection of our trade secrets and business information seriously and will take action if they are misappropriated,” said Randy Hargrove, Walmart spokesman.

“Once we learned that Mr. Harmon improperly transferred sensitive information outside the company, we reported it to federal law enforcement.  We appreciate the U.S. Attorneys’ Office attention and prosecution of this matter.”

Harmon worked as a buyer in the furniture department for the Bentonville-based retailer, which gave him access to “highly sensitive” information on profit margins, production, and pricing for items bought and sold by Walmart and its subsidiaries, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Before leaving Walmart in October 2016, Harmon obtained pricing and production information on thousands of the retailer’s outdoor products.

Harmon then sent the information to his private email and later forwarded it to certain executives at Outdoor Leisure Products, where he subsequently went to work, according to court documents.

Outdoor Leisure Products is based in Neosho, Mo., and makes grills, smokers and related accessories.

Walmart said it didn’t suffer “any identifiable financial loss” through the theft, but said the information Harmon stole is “highly valuable to both vendors and competitors,” according to court documents.

Harmon later told federal investigators he knew the information he shared was proprietary data.

Harmon, who pleaded guilty in June, faced up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.