A former TCW senior vice president on Monday testified that he refused to turn over a computer thumb drive on the day he was fired because he was trying to keep his “options open.”
TCW has charged the former executive, Jeffrey Mayberry, of conspiring with his boss at TCW, Chief Investment Officer Jeffrey Gundlach, and others to steal trade secrets from the firm. Mr. Mayberry is now a senior official at DoubleLine Capital, the rival money management firm launched by Mr. Gundlach.
The case before the California Superior Court pits TCW Group against Mr. Gundlach and his new firm. TCW is charging that Mr. Gundlach and key associates stole company trade secrets, downloading millions of documents before they were fired in December 2009.
Upon questioning by TCW lawyer Steve Madison, Mr. Mayberry said he wasn't sure that the information on the thumb drive was the property of TCW. Mr. Mayberry said that he felt Mr. Gundlach and Mr. Gundlach's lawyers should determine what should be done with the information.
During his questioning, Mr. Madison continually charged that Mr. Mayberry had used the information to help get DoubleLine off the ground. Mr. Mayberry insisted that on that day, Dec. 4, 2009, DoubleLine did not exist.
Mr. Mayberry also testified that on an earlier occasion, Sept. 3, 2009, he was told to download information by his immediate supervisor, Managing Director Cris Santa Ana, before a meeting between Mr. Gundlach and TCW CEO Marc Stern. Mr. Mayberry said there was concern that Mr. Gundlach would be fired that day, and he was told by Mr. Santa Ana to download the information in case it was needed later. Mr. Santa Ana also now works at DoubleLine.
Mr. Mayberry's testimony is expected to continue on Tuesday.
Earlier Monday, a former TCW analyst denied in court that she knew anything about plans by Mr. Gundlach to leave the firm and start a rival money management firm.
The analyst, Rachel Cody, said computer chats she had about breaking away from TCW with key members of TCW's mortgage-based securities team as well as friends outside the company were not based on any plans. They were “only rumors,” she said.
Mr. Gundlach is countersuing for more than $500 million in back wages. He maintains he had no interest in leaving TCW before June 2009, when TCW Chief Executive Marc Stern returned to the company and Mr. Gundlach started fearing he might be fired.
TCW lawyers are trying to prove that Mr. Gundlach, who led the mortgage-backed securities team, was planning to leave TCW and start his own firm months before then.
During Ms. Cody's questioning, TCW lawyer Mr. Madison presented to the jury a February 2009 computer chat between an unidentified TCW employee and Ms. Cody, discussing a lease for office space for a new company that would be headed by Mr. Gundlach.
Ms. Cody, who now works for DoubleLine, insisted she had no knowledge that an actual break from TCW was planned.