Suburban Chicago Woman Sentenced to Four Years in Prison for Stealing Motorola Trade Secrets Before Boarding Plane to China
|U.S. Attorney’s Office August 29, 2012|
CHICAGO—A former software engineer for Motorola Inc., now Motorola Solutions Inc., a telecommunications company based in suburban Schaumburg, was sentenced today to four years in federal prison for stealing Motorola trade secrets relating to its proprietary iDEN technology. The defendant, Hanjuan Jin, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in China, was secretly working for a Chinese company that developed telecommunications technology for the Chinese military when she was stopped by U.S. customs officials at O’Hare International Airport from traveling on a one-way ticket to China in February 2007. Customs officials seized more than 1,000 electronic and paper Motorola documents found in Jin’s possession as she attempted to leave the country.
Jin, 41, of Aurora and formerly of Schaumburg, a nine-year Motorola software engineer, conducted a “purposeful raid to steal technology,” U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo said in imposing the sentence in Federal Court in Chicago. Jin was fined $20,000 and ordered to remain on home confinement with electronic monitoring until beginning her sentence on October 25, 2012.
Jin was convicted of three counts of theft of trade secrets in a February 8, 2012 ruling by Judge Castillo following a five-day bench trial in November 2011. In a 77-page opinion, Judge Castillo found her not guilty of three counts of economic espionage for the benefit of the People’s Republic of China and its military. At sentencing, however, Judge Castillo found by a preponderance of the evidence that Jin “was willing to betray her naturalized country.”
Jin’s work for a Chinese telecommunications company and its Chinese military projects “demonstrates a lack of loyalty to the United States as well as Motorola. It is clear that [Jin] knew that she would be dedicating her education, talents, and experience to the betterment of the Chinese military. To better serve this effort, she opted to steal technology that she had access to at Motorola,” prosecutors argued in a sentencing document. Prosecutors argued that Motorola had invested hundreds of millions of dollars in its iDEN push-to-talk technology, which, in turn, provided the company with hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
“This sentence reinforces the message that federal courts view the theft of trade secrets as a serious crime that warrants significant punishment,” said Gary S. Shapiro, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. “We will do everything we can to guard our economic and national security from the theft of American trade secrets, and this case shows that we can work with victim corporations to protect the trade secrets involved,” he added. Mr. Shapiro announced the sentence with William C. Monroe, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service played a key role in the investigation.
According to the evidence, Jin began working for Motorola in 1998 and took a medical leave of absence in February 2006. While on sick leave in 2006 and secretly from Motorola, Jin pursued employment in China with Sun Kaisens, the Chinese telecommunications company that developed products for the Chinese military. Between November 2006 and February 2007, Jin returned to China and worked for Sun Kaisens on projects for the Chinese military. During this same period of time, she was given classified Chinese military documents by Sun Kaisens to review in order to better assist with the Chinese military projects. After receiving these documents, Jin agreed to review the documents and provide assistance.
On February 15, 2007, Jin returned to the United States from China. On February 22, 2007, just two days after she became a naturalized U.S. citizen, Jin reserved a one-way ticket to China for a flight scheduled to depart on February 28, 2007. The following day, on February 23, 2007, Jin advised Motorola that she was ready to end her medical leave and return to work at Motorola, without advising that she planned to return to China to work for Sun Kaisens.
On February 26, 2007, Jin returned to Motorola, purportedly to resume full-time work, and was given no assignments by her supervisor. Between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Jin accessed more than 200 technical documents belonging to Motorola on its secure internal computer network. At about 9 p.m., Jin returned to Motorola and downloaded additional documents. At approximately 12:15 a.m. on February 27, 2007, Jin was recorded twice leaving a Motorola building with hard copy documents and other materials.
During the day on February 27, 2007, Jin sent an e-mail to her manager in which she appeared to volunteer for a layoff at Motorola. At about 10 p.m., she returned to Motorola’s offices and downloaded numerous additional technical documents. Jin was later recorded leaving a Motorola building with what appeared to be a laptop computer bag.
As she attempted to depart from O’Hare bound for China on February 28, 2007, authorities seized numerous materials, some of which were marked confidential and proprietary belonging to Motorola. Some of the documents provided a detailed description of how Motorola provides a specific communication feature that Motorola incorporates into its telecommunications products sold throughout the world. At the same time, authorities recovered multiple classified Chinese military documents written in the Chinese language that described certain telecommunication projects for the Chinese military. Many of these documents were marked “secret” by the Chinese military.
Authorities also recovered approximately $30,000 in U.S. currency that was in six different envelopes, each containing $5,000, all in hundred dollar bills.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven Dollear, Sharon Fairley, and Christopher Stetler.