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MasTec Inc., the Miami-based telecommunications networks installation company, wants to know if one of its former employees is posting damaging insider information about the firm on the Internet. Attorneys for MasTec are expected to argue today in front of Broward Circuit Judge Leroy Moe on a discovery motion to determine whether Gregory Wayne Jeffries, 35, a former senior project manager at MasTec, is “cheech951″ and “formermtzbigwig,” an individual who has been posting alleged insider information about MasTec on Internet message boards. MasTec’s complaint, filed Dec. 22, states that the postings by cheech951 and formermtzbigwig have appeared on message boards run by Internet companies Yahoo Inc. and Raging Bull Inc., which run message boards dedicated to public companies like MasTec. The company trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol MTZ. Unlike other cases in which companies sued Internet firms like Yahoo and Raging Bull to reveal the identity of people posting insider information on their message boards, the MasTec complaint is directed at an individual. According to the complaint, the individual posted enough information about himself that MasTec was able to conclude that Jeffries, cheech951 and formermtzbigwig may be the same person. Representing MasTec is Joy Lundeen, an attorney with the Miami firm of Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson. She said it’s MasTec policy not to discuss ongoing litigation. MasTec’s only comment is that the company is taking necessary steps to protect its assets and intellectual property, said a company official. Attempts to reach Jeffries by phone and at his home near Fort Lauderdale, Fla., were unsuccessful. According to MasTec’s complaint, beginning on Feb. 26, 2000, cheech951 began posting insider information on Raging Bull’s MasTec message board. On June 29, 2000, formermtzbigwig, whom the complaint alleges is the same person as cheech951, began posting insider information on Yahoo’s MasTec message board. One posting alleged that MasTec’s upper management asked its subsidiaries to funnel work to another company subsidiary, Church & Tower, the construction arm of MasTec that is the focus of a criminal investigation of a road paving contract in Miami-Dade County. Another posting alleged that Church & Tower was doing shoddy duct work for BellSouth, one of MasTec’s biggest clients. Another posting on Aug. 1, 2000, by formermtzbigwig, states: “There is trouble at MTZ internally. The smartest [stock] analysts know it and have downgraded [the company's stock].” MasTec was recently downgraded from “buy” to “market perform” by Friedman Billings Ramsey & Co. Alex Rygiel, the Friedman analyst who tracks MasTec, said the company was downgraded along with other telecom infrastructure firms due to a lack of growth in the telecom market. “Downgrading this sector now makes sense because the 15 to 20 percent growth that had been forecast for this year may be too aggressive in light of the cloudy future we see over the next several months,” Rygiel said in a statement. Still, MasTec’s complaint states that if, indeed, Jeffries is responsible for the postings, he owed a duty to MasTec not to use his access to proprietary information and trade secrets for his own financial benefit and to MasTec’s detriment. MasTec is run by the sons of Jorge Mas Canosa, the late Cuban-American exile leader, who founded the company.

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