Silicon Valley Employee Arrested for Theft of Trade Secrets
WASHINGTON—Jing Zeng 42, of San Ramon, California, appeared in U.S. District Court today after being arrested by the FBI on a criminal complaint alleging theft of trade secrets, announced U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California and Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson of the FBI’s San Francisco Division.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, Zeng is alleged to have downloaded over 100 files containing propriety, non-public information from a confidential Machine Zone Inc. database after he learned that his employment was to be terminated. Machine Zone Inc. makes the online video game Game of War: Fire Age. The affidavit also sets forth evidence that after Zeng downloaded this information onto his company laptop, he transferred it to an external device, wiped and reformatted the laptop and then returned the laptop to the company. The complaint alleges there is probable cause to believe Zeng’s acts amount to a theft of trade secrets.
Zeng was arrested at San Francisco International Airport on Aug. 20, 2015, as he prepared to board a flight for China. He made his initial appearance on Aug. 21, 2015, in federal court in San Francisco and has been detained pending determination of bail. The complaint was unsealed today at Zeng’s bail hearing before Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero in San Francisco. Zeng was released on a $100,000 secured bond and placed on electronic monitoring.
A criminal complaint only alleges probable cause that a defendant committed a crime, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, Zeng faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution if appropriate. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence.
The case is being prosecuted by the Special Prosecutions and National Security Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Palo Alto.