(DOJ) A federal jury convicted a New York man of conspiracy to commit economic espionage following a four-week jury trial.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Xiaoqing Zheng, 59, of Niskayuna, was employed at GE Power & Water in Schenectady, New York, as an engineer specializing in sealing technology.
He worked at GE from 2008 until the summer of 2018.
The trial evidence demonstrated that Zheng and others in China conspired to steal GE’s trade secrets surrounding GE’s steam and gas turbine technologies, knowing or intending to benefit the People’s Republic of China and one or more foreign instrumentalities, including China-based companies that research, develop, and manufacture parts for turbines.
“Zheng conspired to steal trade secrets from his employer, GE, and transfer this information to his business partner in China, so they could enrich both themselves and companies receiving support from the PRC government,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “This is the kind of exploitation of our economy and open society that the Department will continue to counter relentlessly.”
“Today’s verdict holds Xiaoqing Zheng accountable for betraying his employer and trying to help China cheat in the global marketplace,” said U.S. Attorney Carla B. Freedman for the Northern District of New York. “With our law enforcement partners, we will continue to investigate and prosecute individuals who connive to steal trade secrets and valuable technology from the innovative companies doing cutting-edge work in our district.”
“Those who conspire to steal technology from a U.S. business and transfer it to China can cause tremendous damage,” said Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr. of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. “Good-paying jobs could be lost, and communities can suffer. These actions help China become more of a threat to our national security. This is why the FBI puts so much effort into investigating cases of economic espionage.”
“Dr. Zheng used his status as a trusted engineer with GE to conspire to commit economic espionage on behalf of the People’s Republic of China,” said Special Agent in Charge Janeen DiGuiseppi of the FBI’s Albany Field Office. “This conviction should send a strong message that the FBI will continue to vigorously investigate economic espionage cases and pursue prosecution in partnership with the United States Attorney’s Office to ensure the protection of American technology and American jobs.”
Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 2 in Albany before U.S. District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino. Zheng faces up to 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $5 million, and a term of supervised release of up to three years. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The jury acquitted Zheng of two counts of economic espionage and two counts of trade secret theft. The jury could not reach a verdict on one count of conspiracy to commit trade secret theft, two counts of economic espionage, three counts of trade secret theft, and one count of making a false statement to the FBI.
This case was investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Buffalo Field Office.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rick Belliss and Emily C. Powers for the Northern District of New York, and Trial Attorney Matthew Chang of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Controls Section.