Local Chemical Engineer Indicted on Federal Charges in Trade Secrets Case
DALLAS—A Ph.D. chemical engineer from Terrell, Texas, Dr. Mattias Tezock, self-surrendered to special agents of the FBI this morning on felony offenses outlined in a federal indictment returned last week by the grand jury, stemming from his use of trade secrets stolen from his former employer, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
Dr. Tezock is charged with four counts of unauthorized possession of stolen trade secrets. He made his initial appearance is federal court this afternoon in Dallas and was released on bond.
From April 12, 2004 to September 30, 2005, Tezock was employed as a chemical engineer at Voltaix LLC, a multi-national corporation headquartered in North Branch, New Jersey, that manufactures specialty chemicals for the semiconductor and solar energy industries. Over approximately 25 years and at great expense, according to the indictment, Voltaix developed a specific, industry-leading and exacting secret and confidential scientific method to make and purify germane to specifications required by its customers. In particular, Voltaix developed a particular secret and confidential recipe that it uses to manufacture high-purity germane, as required by its customers. It has taken reasonable measure to keep this information secret and confidential and it derives economic value from it not being known to or readily ascertainable through proper means, by the public.
As part of his employment at Voltaix, Tezock signed and agreed to an “Employment and Non-Compete Agreement” and an “Employee Confidentiality Acknowledgement Form” when he joined the company, which prohibited him from improper disclosures of Voltaix’s confidential, proprietary, and trade secret information. While he was employed at Voltaix, Tezock primarily worked on the pre-commissioning of Voltaix’s germane processing and manufacturing plant. Tezock’s employment was terminated as of September 30, 2005.
The indictment alleges that Tezock later moved to Terrell and opened Metaloid Precursors Inc., a company set up to manufacture, produce, purify, and sell the specialty gas, germane. According to the indictment, from September 30, 2005 until at least March 17, 2011, Tezock unlawfully possessed confidential, proprietary, and trade secret information from Voltaix, and he attempted to convert and did convert that information for his economic benefit by developing, manufacturing, marketing, and selling the germane. After his termination from Voltaix, Tezock almost immediately began taking steps to misappropriate Voltaix’s confidential, proprietary, and trade secret recipes and process for manufacturing and purifying high-purity germane gas (GeH4), a hazardous chemical, by creating a competing business entity and attempting to steal business from Voltaix by actively soliciting at least one of Voltaix’s customers.
In addition, according to the indictment, during subsequent civil litigation brought by Voltaix, Tezock took steps to hide his possession of this trade secret information by deleting files or manipulating computer evidence in an attempt to prevent Voltaix from learning the scope and magnitude of his breach. He also provided false testimony about it under oath in a deposition in the civil litigation.
An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury, and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. If convicted, each count of theft of trade secrets carries a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation that would require Tezock, if convicted, to forfeit to the government all proceeds traceable to the offense. Restitution could also be ordered.
The FBI is investigating the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys J. Nicholas Bunch and Paul Yanowitch are prosecuting.