Businessman Indicted for Allegedly Stealing Employer’s Trade Secrets While Planning for New Job with Rival Firm in China
CHICAGO — A 30-year employee of a McHenry County manufacturing firm stole proprietary information from the company while planning to move to China to begin work for a rival firm, according to an indictment returned in federal court in Chicago.
On Sept. 13, 2015, ROBERT O’ROURKE allegedly downloaded electronic data belonging to his employer, a Woodstock-based manufacturer of cast-iron products. At the time, O’Rourke had already accepted a new job with a rival firm in Jiangsu, China, according to the indictment. Two days later he officially resigned from the Woodstock company, the indictment states. The following week O’Rourke packed up the proprietary information and went to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago to board a flight to China, the indictment states. Federal authorities intervened and seized the stolen electronic data, along with stolen paper documents, before O’Rourke traveled to China to begin work for the new firm.
The 13-count indictment was returned Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago. It charges O’Rourke, 57, of Lake Geneva, Wisc., with theft of trade secrets. Arraignment is set for July 25, 2017, at 10:15 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Andrea R. Wood in Chicago.
The indictment was announced by Joel R. Levin, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to the charges, O’Rourke worked for the Woodstock company since 1984, holding the positions of plant metallurgist, quality assurance manager and salesperson. He also helped the company develop international business in, among other places, China, the indictment states. In December 2013, O’Rourke allegedly began discussions with a Chinese firm to take a similar job there. After several months of discussions and negotiations, O’Rourke accepted the position of Vice President at the Chinese company, the indictment states.
O’Rourke initially advised the Woodstock company on Aug. 12, 2015, that he intended to resign, according to the indictment. At that time, O’Rourke did not mention that he was negotiating employment with the Chinese firm, and he continued to work for the Woodstock company for another month, the indictment states. During that month he purchased his plane ticket to China and stole the proprietary trade secrets, the charges state.
The indictment does not identify the name of the Woodstock company or the Chinese firm.
The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Each count of the indictment is punishable by a maximum penalty of ten years in prison. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shoba Pillay.