Former McAfee GC Acquitted on Backdating Charges

After a two-and-a-half week trial, former McAfee general counsel Kent Roberts was acquitted Friday of criminal charges stemming from backdated stock options.

On charges of mail fraud, Juror William West told reporters the jury decided that although Roberts knew his stock options were tainted years after they were changed, the government didn't prove that he meant to commit a crime.

"Nowhere in the e-mail trail was there an indication he had initiated what the government called 'a scheme to defraud' the company," West said.

Prosecutors alleged Roberts illegally backdated his stock options in 2000 to make them worth more and then submitted fraudulent reports to the SEC to conceal his actions. However, he never cashed out the shares. Roberts was also fired in 2006 when McAfee learned of his altered options.

Judge Marilyn Hall Patel also declared a mistrial on a false-books-and-records charge, because jurors could not agree on a verdict.

The trial began inauspiciously when the law firm hired to do McAfee's internal investigation produced a set of relevant e-mails from 2000 just a day before opening statements. The firm, Howrey, had been under subpoena for months and blamed the e-discovery mishap on contract lawyers who were handling millions of documents for the case.

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