Colm F. Connolly, United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, announced that John Berenson Morris of Mt. Kisco, New York, entered a guilty plea to one count of attempting to steal and transmit trade secret information belonging to Brookwood Companies, Inc., a textile company based in New York, New York. Morris was prosecuted under the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, which makes the theft of trade secrets a Federal criminal offense. He faces up to ten years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000 on this charge.
Connolly said that during July and August 2002, Morris attempted to sell Brookwood’s proprietary pricing information to one of its competitors, Newark-based W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc. This pricing information related to a then-outstanding multi-million dollar U.S. Department of Defense solicitation for bid for the production of certain military fabric products. From July 26, 2002, through August 5, 2002, Morris placed a series of phone calls to a man he believed to be a Gore employee, in which Morris offered to sell Brookwood’s trade secrets for $100,000. What Morris did not know at the time, however, was that this man was actually an undercover Department of Defense agent. The phone calls culminated in a meeting at a rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike on August 5, 2002, where Morris was arrested. Connolly said that W.L. Gore contacted federal law enforcement shortly after Morris placed his first phone call to Gore to propose the illegal sale of information. Connolly noted that this action enabled law enforcement to arrange for the undercover special agent to receive and respond to Morris’ subsequent overtures. Connolly said, “In the modern business environment, intellectual property and trade secrets may be among a corporation’s most valuable possessions. This prosecution makes a strong statement that the theft of trade secrets will not be tolerated.” The case was investigated by agents with the Department of Defense, Office of the Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, Defense Criminal Investigative Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Keith M. Rosen. Connolly thanked the agents for their quick response and dedicated efforts in investigating this case and ensuring that the government contract bid process remained fair to all. For further information, contact United States Attorney Colm F. Connolly.