Ex-Motorola Worker Gets 4 Years for Trade Secret ‘Raid’

Hanjuan Jin, a former Motorola Inc. software engineer, was sentenced to four years in prison for stealing trade secrets from the company.

U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo in Chicago, who convicted Jin, 41, on three counts following a nonjury trial last year, today told her that she had conducted a “very purposeful raid,” on her employer.

“You conducted this raid in the dead of night, in the after-hours when you knew there was a lesser chance you would be caught,” he said before passing sentence. She was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $20,000 fine.

Indicted in 2008, Jin was accused of working simultaneously for Motorola and for Kai Sun News (Beijing) Technology Co., also known as SunKaisens, which was affiliated with China’s military. Motorola, now known as Motorola Solutions Inc., is a maker of communications equipment based in Schaumburg, Illinois, about 28 miles (45 kilometers) from Chicago.

U.S. customs agents stopped Jin as she was about to board a plane at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Feb. 28, 2007. In her possession were more than 1,000 Motorola documents, $30,000 in cash and a one-way ticket to China.

She also had Chinese military documents with her, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Dollear reminded the court today.

Economic Espionage

At trial Castillo rejected the prosecution claim that Jin was engaged in economic espionage on behalf of the government of China, for which she faced three counts, each punishable by as long as 15 years in prison. Jin faced as long as 10 years in prison on each trade-secret count.

While Jin “criminally betrayed” Motorola, prosecutors failed to convince the judge beyond a reasonable doubt that she was a Chinese agent.

Prosecutors sought a term of as long as eight years, while defense attorneys requested probation.

“I am so sorry for what has happened,” Jin told Castillo today before being sentenced. Wearing a dark gray pinstriped jacket and black pants, she asked the judge for mercy.

Her defense attorney John Murphy told the court his client had survived bouts of meningitis, tuberculosis and cancer.

Castillo said Jin’s health was a factor in her punishment, and her sentence might otherwise have been longer.

Jin was ordered to report to prison on Oct. 25. Murphy declined to comment after the sentencing.

Serious Crime

Dollear told reporters that prosecutors were satisfied with the outcome. He said the four-year term conveyed the seriousness of Jin’s crime.

“She did have classified Chinese documents on her,” he said.

Jin worked for Motorola for nine years before she “betrayed the trust Motorola placed in her,” according to the prosecution’s sentencing memorandum.

Her lawyers, from the Federal Public Defender Program, disputed that the information Jin took actually constituted trade secrets as defined by law.

“Ms. Jin has overwhelming remorse and regret for those actions,” her lawyers said in their presentence brief. “She continues to suffer from the collateral consequences of her admittedly poor choice.”

Prosecutors said Jin’s information was worth more than $300 million. The defense said there was no actual loss because Jin was arrested with the information still in her possession.

Customs Agents

Castillo assessed an intended loss of $10 million to $15 million, saying that only Jin’s interdiction by the customs agents prevented her from leaving the U.S. with stolen secrets.

Citing Jin’s master’s degree in physics from the University of Notre Dame, her paid-for home and her six-figure income, Castillo said there was “no economic need to justify this offense.”

“You are an enigma to this court,” he told Jin.

The case is U.S. v. Jin, 08-cr-192, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

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