A judge in Chicago ruled this week that a former Motorola employee is guilty of trying to steal trade secrets from the company and flee to China.
On Feb. 28, 2007, U.S. Customs agents at O’Hare International Airport stopped Hanjuan Jin, a Chinese-born naturalized U.S. citizen, before she boarded a flight to China. Jin was holding a one-way ticket to her home country, as well as $30,000 in cash and more than a thousand Motorola documents, which agents found during a search.
Jin claimed she just took the documents to simply refresh her technical knowledge after a long absence from work. Prosecutors claimed, however, that Jin was working with Beijing-based technology company Kai Sun News Technology Co. and had plans to sell the documents when she arrived in China. Her trial began in November 2011.
Although U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo found Jin guilty of stealing trade secrets, he acquitted her on charges that she did so to sell the secrets to Kai Sun. In his ruling Wednesday, Judge Castillo convicted Jin on three counts of economic espionage, each of which carries a possible sentence of 15 years in prison. Jin will be confined to her home until sentencing on April 18.
“We want to send a message to the corporate community that we take the theft of trade secrets very seriously,” Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald told reporters after the ruling.