A former General Electric engineer has been sentenced to 2 years in federal prison for stealing trade secrets. Jean Patrice Delia conspired with Miguel Sernas to compete against CE worldwide.
Jean Patrice Delia from Montreal pleaded guilty to the charges. Delia admitted that he had worked with another man to use trade secrets from GE to compete against the company. Miguel Sernas, from Mexico City, and Delia went into business together at ThermoGen Power Services. Delia stole the information from GE in Schenectady, between the years of 2001 and 2012.
He was accused of stealing thousands of electronic files from GE. The files included exclusive tools developed to calibrate turbines in GE’s worldwide power plants. Delia has been ordered to jail for 2 years as well as ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution. His final sentence is shorter than that asked for by prosecutors. They had originally requested a term of 3 years and 1 month. They argued that Delia was the person who stole the materials and was the driving force behind the plan. Prosecutors pointed out that the crime was not victimless. Prosecutors argued that many people were effected and the consequences should reflect that.
On the other hand, Delia’s attorney Paul S. Folk asked for time served, saying that he had accepted responsibility and was trying to make amends. Delia entered his guilty plea almost 2 years ago, in December 2019. Miguel Sernas was sentenced to time served which amounted to about a year in jail. He was also ordered to pay $1.4 million, the same amount as Delia.
Other employees stealing trade secrets in recent cases
Another recent case involving trade secrets theft is that of a former employee at Pfizer. Chun Xiao Li is being sued by her previous employer. Pfizer alleges that Li stole trade secrets including documents relating to their COVID-19 vaccine, as well as other products. They allege that she uploaded over 12,000 documents. Additionally, she allegedly lied about why and where the files were stored on a private Google Drive account. Li had been working as an associate director of statistics. She had already been under investigation by Pfizer when she resigned from the company in November.
Also in recent weeks, the first Chinese spy has been convicted in the US of economic espionage for trying to steal aviation trade secrets. Yanjun Xu has been convicted of two counts of conspiring and attempting to commit economic espionage, conspiracy to commit trade secret theft and attempted theft of trade secrets. He could be fined more than $5 million and receive up to 60 years in prison. Xu targeted several aviation and aerospace companies, including GE Aviation, which is a unit of General Electric. He was first arrested in Belgium in 2018, with his extradition to the US following six months later.
Both large corporations and small businesses could be at risk of intellectual property theft and trade secret misappropriation. These prominent cases in the news could result in organizations taking steps to reduce the risks of this happening.