A U.S. District Court in Detroit has sentenced to jail a Michigan couple convicted of stealing General Motors trade secrets related to hybrid-car technology. Former GM engineer Shanshan Du was convicted in November 2012 of conspiracy to possess trade secrets without authorization and two counts of unauthorized possession of trade secrets.
She was, however, acquitted of three counts of wire fraud. US District Judge Marianne Battani sentenced Du to 12 months and one day total on all three counts, served concurrently. Du will also have one year of supervised release. Judge Battani fined Du $100 for each count and imposed an additional fine of $12,500.
Her husband, Yu Qin, was found guilty of conspiracy to possess trade secrets without authorization, two counts of unauthorized possession of trade secrets, three counts of wire fraud and one count of obstruction of justice. Judge Battani sentenced him to 36 months total on all seven counts, also served concurrently. He was fined $100 for each count, plus another fine of $25,000.
Both Du and Qin burst into tears while addressing the court. According to her attorney, Robert Morgan, Du's health issues include anxiety, depression and a fight with cancer in 2009. Before the sentencing, Qin said that all was his fault and he wants to take full responsibility for it.
Du, a former engineer for GM's Advanced Technology Vehicles Group in suburban Detroit, copied 16,262 documents covering hybrid vehicles on a flash drive in February 2005 -- five days after she was offered with a severance agreement. Nearly 20 documents contained trade secrets. Battani said that while trade secret theft isn't a violent crime, Du and Qin still committed a serious offense because of its economic implications.