Shanshan Du is a former engineer at General Motors that was convicted with her husband of stealing trade secrets for possible use in China. Du transferred within GM in 2003 to be closer to the technology division. She copied documents up until the time that she accepted a severance offer and left the company in 2005 according to prosecutors.
Shanshan Du, 54, and her husband Yu Qin, 51, was found guilty on Friday by a federal jury in Detroit following a trial that lasted for weeks. Qin was convicted of wire fraud and attempted to obstruct justice by shredding documents.
Du is facing up to 10 years in prison and her husband is facing up to 30 years. Prosecutors told jurors that GM’s trade secrets were found on at least 7 computers owned by the couple. The government does not believe that the information ever made it to China though. Qin had set up his own company called Millennium Technology International and the government claims that he made contact with GM’s competitors overseas.
The defense lawyers for the couple acknowledged that GM information was in the possession of the couple but they downplayed the significance of the data.
Agents started tracking the couple after searching their home in 2006. They also watched Qin dump shredded documents in a grocery store dumpster. “Is that the conduct of innocent people?” asked U.S. Attorney Cathleen Corken.
Corken said that the stolen GM technology was worth at least $40 million. The couple were charged in 2006 with destroying documents sought by investigators, but the case was dropped as the investigators pursued a broader probe that led to an indictment in 2010.