A federal grand jury in Baltimore has indicted a former Columbia computer school operator who fled Maryland early last year after allegedly training unsuspecting students to alter and steal sophisticated business software owned by an Atlanta, Ga., company.
The indictment, filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, charges Keith K. McMuya, a Zairean immigrant, with three counts of transporting or transmitting stolen property from Maryland to Virginia, Texas and California in 1989 and early 1990.
According to the indictment and information filed in a related civil suit last year, McMuya used his students at Management Systems Automation, in Columbia, to steal and modify copyrighted business software programs that belonged to Management Science America Inc. of Atlanta.
About the time Management Science learned of the alleged scam in late 1989 or early 1990, McMuya locked up his training facility on Eden Brook Drive in Columbia and fled.
He left behind some 60 students, most of them computer programmers and engineers who said they had paid him $1,750 each to learn the business software on his promise that he would find them jobs paying up to $75,000 a year on completion of their training.
Some of the students said McMuya trained them to alter Management Science's copyrighted accounting and related business software and transmit it to a mainframe computer company in Irving, Texas, near Dallas.
The indictment charges that McMuya used rented computers to teach his students to "systematically" copy stolen Management Science software, programs, marketing brochures and computer source code onto personal computers and diskettes; to change the name on the software to Management Systems Automation; and to load the altered products onto the mainframe computer in Texas.
McMuya, also known as Keith McMuyn and Kabeya Muy Nkongolo, was brought to Baltimore by the FBI July 9 after his release from a California state prison, where he served time on criminal convictions tied to credit card fraud and forgery. He is being detained without bond pending trial.
Management Science, now known as Dun/Bradstreet Software Services Inc., sells its proprietary software worldwide for licensing fees of about $500,000 per copy.
The company eventually obtained an injunction from U.S. District Judge Norman P. Ramsey last year to prevent McMuya from modifying or selling the company's sophisticated business programs. McMuya failed to appear at the court's hearings in the civil suit.
McMuya disappeared for several months, but he surfaced again in April 1990 when he was arrested in Sunnyvale, Calif., on the credit card fraud and forgery charges.
According to documents, he reportedly had gone to Boston and elsewhere in what Management Science officials contended was an attempt to set up other training scams with their products.
Attorney William D. Quarles, a former federal prosecutor in Baltimore who represented Management Science in the civil suit, said the company recovered "a good bit" of its stolen products, which were found in McMuya's car when he was arrested in California.
"But there is a substantial amount of it that we didn't recover, and we are concerned about that. It is one of the open mysteries of this case."
Quarles said he hopes that a continuing federal investigation of McMuya will reveal where the missing software went and that others involved in the theft of it will be prosecuted.
"There had to be others involved with McMuya," Quarles said.