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Press Release

Businessman Convicted of Stealing Employer’s Trade Secrets While Planning New Job with Chinese Rival

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois

CHICAGO — A federal jury has convicted a 30-year employee of a McHenry County manufacturing firm of stealing trade secret information while planning to move to China to work for a rival company.

The jury in U.S. District Court in Chicago on Monday convicted ROBERT O’ROURKE, 59, of Lake Geneva, Wisc., on seven counts of theft of trade secrets.  Each count is punishable by up to ten years in prison.  U.S. District Judge Andrea R. Wood set sentencing for June 3, 2019.

The conviction was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Jeffrey S. Sallet, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shoba Pillay and Christopher V. Parente.

According to evidence at trial, O’Rourke since 1984 worked for Dura-Bar, a Woodstock-based manufacturer of continuous cast-iron products.  O’Rourke held the positions of plant metallurgist, quality assurance manager and salesperson, and helped the company develop business in China and other locations.  In late 2013, he began several months of negotiations to take a similar job with a rival firm in Jiangsu, China, eventually accepting the position of Vice President.

Evidence at trial revealed that in September 2015, while still employed with Dura-Bar, O’Rourke accepted the job offer in China.  He then downloaded electronic data and documents belonging to Dura-Bar without authorization two days before officially leaving the company.  The following week, he packed up the proprietary information and went to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago to board a flight to China.  Federal authorities intervened at the airport and seized the stolen trade secrets from O’Rourke before he could travel to China.

Updated February 28, 2019

Intellectual Property