Ex-Dow Scientist Who Stole Secrets Gets 7 Years, 3 Months Prison

An ex-Dow AgroSciences LLC researcher who stole trade secrets from his former employer to benefit a Chinese university was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison, prosecutors said.

Kexue Huang, 46, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge William T. Lawrence in Indianapolis, according to an e-mailed statement from U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett’s office.

“The United States Attorney’s Office takes seriously its obligation to protect Hoosier businesses from economic espionage,” Hogsett said in the statement. Hoosier is a nickname for people from Indiana.

Huang, a Chinese national, pleaded guilty in October to economic espionage. He also admitted to stealing trade secrets from the Minneapolis-based grain distributor Cargill Inc., the U.S. Justice Department said in October. Financial losses from his conduct exceed $7 million, the U.S. said.

It’s the first such prosecution in Indiana under a provision of the Economic Espionage Act that bans trade-secret theft to benefit a component of a foreign government, the government said. Eight such cases have been brought since the law was enacted in 1996, the U.S. said.

James Edgar, Huang’s attorney, didn’t immediately respond to a voice-mail message seeking comment on the sentencing. Huang has been in federal custody since he was indicted and will begin serving his sentence immediately, said Tim Horty, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Indianapolis. The government will seek to deport him after his sentence, Horty said in a phone interview.

Pesticide Research

Huang worked for the Indianapolis-based unit of Midland, Michigan-based Dow Chemical Co., where he researched the development of organically derived pesticides, from 2003 to 2008.

While at Dow, he shared confidential information with at least two people, one of whom conducted research first at the Hunan Normal University in China and later in Dresden, Germany, according to a plea agreement, which didn’t name the people.

In 2008 Huang went to work for Cargill as a biotechnologist. He admitted that while at Cargill he stole one of the company’s trade secrets -- a key component in the making of a new food product -- which he gave to a student at Hunan Normal University, the U.S. said in a statement yesterday.

The cases are U.S. v. Huang, 10-cr-102 and 11-cr-163, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana (Indianapolis).

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