75-year-old scientist gets 5 years for selling Dow secrets

Anissa Ford's picture

The FBI sentenced 75-year-old Wen Chyu Liu, aka David W. Liou, to 5 years in prison for selling trade secrets from his employer Dow Chemical to companies in China.

Liu came to the United States from China for graduate work. He began working for Dow in 1965 and retired in 1992. Dow is a leading producer of the elastomeric polymer, chlorinated polyethylene (CPE). Dow’s Tyrin CPE is used in a number of applications worldwide, such as automotive and industrial hoses, electrical cable jackets and vinyl siding.

Liu worked as a research scientist at Dow's facility in Plaquemine, Lousiania. His work included the development and manufacture of Dow elastomers, including Tyrin CPE. iu had access to trade secrets and confidential and proprietary information pertaining to Dow’s Tyrin CPE process and product technology.

The FBI provided evidence at trial that proved Liu's conspiracy with at least four current and former employees of Dow’s facilities in Plaquemine, La and Stade, Germany, who had worked in Tyrin CPE production, to misappropriate those trade secrets in an effort to develop and market CPE process design packages to various Chinese companies.

Liu also got two years of supervised release and a judge ordered him to forfeit $600,000 and pay a $25,000 fine. A federal jury in Baton Rouge, La., convicted Liu on Feb. 7, 2011, of one count of conspiracy to commit trade secret theft and one count of perjury, the FBI said.

Liu sold Dow's patented secrets for $600,000. Dow contends Liu's treachery cost the company $250 million.

Liu traveled extensively throughout China to market the stolen information, and evidence introduced at trial showed that he paid current and former Dow employees for Dow’s CPE-related material and information. In one instance, Liu bribed a then-employee at the Plaquemine facility with $50,000 in cash to provide Dow’s process manual and other CPE-related information, according to FBI reports.

Liu was also hit with a perjury charged. The FBI says he lied during a deposition and said he didn't conspire to bring another co-conspirator to China in the attempt to sell secrets to Chinese representatives.

Liu's co-conspirators, John Wheeler and Keith A. Stoecker pleaded guilty and were sentenced to one and two years probation respectively. Throughout the trial, Liu maintained his innocence.

As part of his sentencing, Liu was told U.S. District Court Judge James J. Brady that he'd lose all of his assets. Brady also said that despite declarations of innocent, that he had "no doubt" Liu was guilty. Brady also senteneced Liu to 2 years of supervised release. He was ordered to repay the $600,000 he gained through selling secrets.

Liu's original conviction was one one count of conspiracy to commit trade secret theft and one count of perjury.

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