Irvine Engineer Named in New Indictment Alleging Theft of Trade Secrets from Two Medical Device Companies
SANTA ANA, California – A federal grand jury has issued a superseding indictment that charges an Irvine engineer with stealing and possessing trade secrets belonging to two former employers, both of which develop and manufacture medical devices used to treat cardiac and vascular ailments.
Wenfeng Lu, 43, of Irvine, was named in a 12-count superseding indictment returned by a grand jury on Wednesday.
The indictment alleges that Lu stole the confidential and proprietary trade secrets from two different medical device companies with research facilities in Irvine, where Lu worked from January 2009 until he was arrested in 2012.
During this time, Lu travelled to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) multiple times – sometimes soon after allegedly downloading trade secrets from an employer’s computer and emailing information to his personal email account. Lu was arrested as he prepared to board a plane to the PRC in November 2012, according to court documents. Lu appeared “to be in the process of setting up a company with other individuals in the PRC to manufacture medical devices,” an FBI agent wrote in an affidavit previously filed in this case.
“Intellectual property theft poses a grave threat to businesses and the employees who depend on those businesses for their livelihoods,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Moreover, when the stolen material is destined for foreign entities seeking to compete with American businesses, as it was in this case, IP theft also threatens the security of our nation. This is one of the reasons that my Office now prosecutes IP crimes out of a National Security Division.”
Lu was initially indicted in this case in December 2012. That indictment included allegations related only to one of the companies’ trade secrets. The new indictment incorporates the allegations related to four trade secrets owned by the other.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The case against Lu has been assigned to United States District Judge, who previously had scheduled a trial for June 21. Lu is scheduled to be arraigned on the superseding indictment on June 13.
Each of the 12 felony counts alleging the theft and possession of trade secrets carries a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $5 million.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.