Coral Gables

Cops: Tech spat at Coral Gables firm leads to extortion, arrest

Back in September 2013, executives at a well-known Coral Gables investment management firm got a shocking e-mail from a tech employee demanding to be promoted.

Jeffrey Bau threatened to leak “sensitive information” that would spur clients to “withdraw” their business from Bayview Asset Management.

But Coral Gables police detectives say Bau never sent the e-mail – in fact, it was a former co-worker scheming to frame Bau.

This week, authorities arrested the disgruntled employee, Delano Lalla, 35, who now works as an information technology security engineer with Norwegian Cruise Line.

Lalla, who made an initial court appearance on Wednesday, is charged with extortion and identity theft. He has since bonded out of jail.

Reached by phone on Wednesday evening, Lalla declined to comment. “I don’t think it would be in my best interest,” he said.

Both men worked as IT security engineers at Bayview, though neither works with Bayview anymore. The firm, which boasts 1,600 employees, buys mortgage loans and mortgage-backed securities. It claims to manage more than $9 billion in assets.

Bau declined to say why his former co-worker might have targeted him or the company.

“I’m really surprised by this,” Bau said when told of the arrest by a reporter Wednesday night. “This is the first I’m hearing about it.”

The two threatening e-mails were sent to CEO David Ertel and Managing Director Richard O’Brien, according to an arrest report.

In the e-mails, the fake Bau demanded to be promoted to vice president. The company promptly suspended Bau, though he said Wednesday he never doubted his name would be cleared.

Lalla tried to mask the identity of his computer by using what is known in geek speak as a “virtual private network.” But subpoenaed records revealed Lalla’s credit card was used to buy the VPN connection, according to documents.

When Coral Gables police arrested him Tuesday, detectives found the same credit card in his wallet. His arraignment is scheduled for March 26.

Dellala is a former Miami-Dade County IT employee who once filed a state complaint alleging he was discriminated against because of his Hindu religion. The state Commission on Human Relations dismissed the complaint in 2010, according to records.