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Ex-Barksdale employee charged with theft

A former employee of Jim Barksdale's investment firm has been arrested on charges of embezzlement and of downloading sensitive information on the firm's portfolio companies.

A former employee of Jim Barksdale's investment firm, The Barksdale Group, has been arrested on charges of embezzlement and of downloading sensitive information on the firm's portfolio companies.

Melissa A. Edelman, a former administrative assistant, was charged with four counts of embezzlement of funds and trade secrets by the San Mateo County district attorney's office last week.

Edelman, during a 15-month period that ended in March, used a corporate credit card to buy personal items, said Mark Boessenecker, a deputy district attorney.

Upon her dismissal, she returned to the Menlo Park, Calif., office, where she downloaded information from the portfolio companies, Boessenecker said.

Edelman took funds and trade secrets valued at $1 million, but the figure may be amended as investigators go through the evidence, Boessenecker said.

Edelman's attorney, Doron Weinberg, said Tuesday that his client is innocent.

"She did not steal any corporate secrets. It's a misunderstanding of what she actually did," said Weinberg, with the San Francisco-based firm Weinberg & Wilder. "She was leaving her employment and cleaning up her computer and doing it properly."

Representatives for The Barksdale Group, which counts online grocer Webvan, finance site MyCFO and telecommunications company Tellme Networks among its portfolio companies, declined to comment.

Boessenecker said that while trade secret theft is a small percentage of overall criminal cases, it has been gaining steam in the Bay Area, particularly in Santa Clara County.

"While a trade secret may not be valuable today, it may be worth a lot in the future," he said.