Strib's Ridder admits he stole data from Pioneer Press as he left

In videotaped testimony played in Ramsey County District Court today, Star Tribune publisher Par Ridder acknowledged he copied confidential financial documents onto a portable hard drive before leaving his old employer, the Pioneer Press, and said he shared the information on personnel matters, advertising and profits with managers at the Star Tribune.

William Dean Singleton, CEO of MediaNews, the Denver-based company that owns the Pioneer Press, was in the courtroom today as a judge heard his paper's request for a temporary injunction that would prevent Ridder and two other former PiPress executives from working for the Minneapolis paper. At issue are noncompete agreements the Pioneer Press says Ridder, Strib senior vice president of operations Kevin Desmond, and Jennifer Parratt, now director of niche publications, signed when the paper was still owned by Knight Ridder. Par Ridder acknowledged he asked an assistant to shred a stack of noncompete agreements -- including his own -- on his last day at the St. Paul paper, but changed his mind. He stopped her in the parking ramp as she left work and retrieved the documents himself.

In a legal filing on June 19, the Star Tribune argued that the data Ridder took wouldn't damage its crosstown rival. In its legal brief, the Pioneer Press said "[t]hese individuals were top executives with firsthand knowledge of [the Pioneer Press'] business strategies, customer relationships, and overall strengths and weaknesses."

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