By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former employee of Western Asset Management Co avoided prison Thursday for repeatedly accessing an ex-supervisor's email account after leaving the financial firm, conduct his attorney blamed on a concern that he was being criticized.

Kristopher Rocchio, 39, was sentenced by U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman in Manhattan to one year of probation, 100 hours of community service and ordered to pay $39,095 in restitution.

The sentence was confirmed by the office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, which had sought up to a year in prison, and followed Rocchio's guilty plea in March to a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized computer intrusion.

Rocchio previously admitted that after leaving Legg Mason Inc's Western Asset Management to become a vice president at investment manager Neuberger Berman, he used his former supervisor's log-in information to read his emails.

Prosecutors had at the time of the Staten Island resident's December arrest alleged that he accessed his former supervisor's account on about 100 occasions without authorization.

Authorities said he also sent himself a spreadsheet with compensation and performance evaluation information for various employees as well as a PowerPoint presentation on Western Asset's internal metrics.

Steven Feldman, Rocchio's lawyer, did not respond to requests for comment.

Feldman had previously said Rocchio's actions were due not to a desire to help his new employer, but because he and his former supervisor did not get along "and he wanted to see if he was speaking bad about him." [L2N16Q1FH]

The case is U.S. v. Rocchio, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-cr-00222.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York, editing by G Crosse)