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Ex-Dow Agro scientist set to be sentenced in espionage case

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Federal prosecutors are recommending that a former Dow AgroSciences researcher be sentenced to more than seven years in prison for sending trade secrets worth millions to China and Germany.

Kexue Huang is set to be sentenced at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis after pleading guilty to the charge in October.

Federal sentencing guidelines call for Huang to spend 70 months to 87 months in prison, but prosecutors argued in a Dec. 12 court filing that he should receive a sentence at the “high end” of the guidelines.

“While the defendant previously did not have any criminal convictions, in only a few years he committed two serious offenses involving the misappropriation of trade secrets from two previously established U.S. companies,” prosecutors wrote. “In both instances, he disregarded his obligations of non-disclosure by breaching the confidentiality agreements which he signed.”

Chinese-born Huang worked as a researcher for Dow AgroSciences in Indianapolis from January 2003 until his firing in February 2008. He also held a similar position at Cargill Inc.

Huang was indicted first in Minnesota, alleged to have obtained trade secrets of a food product from Cargill. He also was indicted in Indiana last year on 12 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets and was alleged to have passed on information about a Dow Agro organic pesticide.

“The only thing which stopped him was being fired by both companies, and ultimately, being arrested and prosecuted by the U.S. government,” prosecutors wrote.

The case was brought under the Economic Espionage Act, passed in 1996 after the U.S. realized China and other countries were targeting private businesses as part of their spy strategies.

Prosecutors said the trade secrets and biological material were given to Hunan Normal University in China, where Huang became a professor while working at Dow.

The Justice Department said Dow invested $300 million developing the information that Huang stole, but the plea agreement valued the total losses from Huang’s conduct at $7 million to $20 million.

Dow AgroSciences is a subsidiary of Midland, Mich.-based Dow Chemical Co.

Huang is a Canadian citizen with permanent U.S. resident status.
 
This story originally ran on IBJ.com Dec. 21, 2011.

 

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

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  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

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