LOS ANGELES (CN) – A Chinese national who worked for two Southern California medical device makers was sentenced Monday to more than two years in federal prison for stealing trade secrets.
Wenfeng Lu, 46, worked as an engineer at research facilities belonging to Southern California-based companies ev3 and Edwards Lifesciences Corporation from January 2009 until November 2012 when he was arrested before he could board a plane to China.
Despite signing employee agreements not to steal trade secrets, Lu stole technical documents on proprietary technology belonging to both companies – which manufacture medical devices used to treat cardiac and vascular ailments – and placed them on his personal laptop computer at home.
While he was working for the companies, Lu travelled frequently to China, sometimes soon after stealing proprietary information from his employers.
After securing financing, Lu planned to launch a company in China that would manufacture devices – based on technology he had stolen from his American employers – used to treat vascular problems, court documents said.
The U.S. companies did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday afternoon.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford sentenced Lu on Monday to 24 months in prison after he pleaded guilty last May to six counts of unauthorized possession and attempted possession of trade secrets.
Federal prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court that Lu had secured at least $328,000 in funding from the Chinese government.
“The money and laboratory space was part of a program sponsored by the PRC government to encourage scientists of Chinese descent to return to the PRC with intellectual property to develop biomedical technology in the PRC,” the memorandum said, adding that trade secrets were “at great risk of being stolen by nefarious actors in the PRC.”
Lu’s case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark Takla and Jennie Wang.