The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California announced that Brent Alan Woodard, 34, of Oakland, California, a former Director of Information Technology at Lightwave Microsystems, Inc., pleaded guilty today to stealing trade secrets contained on his company's back-up tapes and offering them to a competitor in late 2002. Mr. Woodard's sentencing on the plea to one count of theft of trade secrets under 18 U.S.C. § 1832 is scheduled for December 5, 2005, at 9:00 a.m., before United States District Court Judge Ronald M. Whyte.
According to court records and his plea agreement, Mr. Woodard stole trade secrets stored on computer backup tapes from Lightwave and attempted to sell them to JDS-Uniphase, a competitor of Lightwave, with offices in Bloomfield, Connecticut. (Lightwave has since been bought out by Neophotonics, Corp., also of San Jose, California.) Mr. Woodard admitted that he stole the back-up tapes after Lightwave announced it was ceasing operations in late 2002, then tried to capitalize on the theft by creating an alias named "Joe Data" and email account "email@example.com" to offer the stolen material to JDS's chief technology officer.
According to an affidavit filed in support of a search warrant, JDS immediately contacted the FBI, which then monitored negotiations between "Joe Data" and JDS over the stolen trade secrets. The affidavit further describes that FBI Special Agents traced the "Joe Data" email communications to Mr. Woodard's residence, leading to the execution of a search warrant in December 2002.
The maximum statutory penalty for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1832 is 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the Court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
The guilty plea is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The investigation was overseen by the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) Unit of the U.S. Attorney's Office. Matt Parrella is the Assistant U.S. Attorney in the CHIP Unit who is prosecuting the case. Lightwave Microsystems, Inc., Neophotonics Corp., and JDS-Uniphase cooperated with the FBI in the investigation.