GM Seeks Stiff Sentence for Detroit-Area Couple That Stole Chevy Volt Trade Secrets to Sell to China (UPDATE)

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 6

Troy, MI Couple Who Stole Volt Secrets Could Be Sentenced to Several Years in jail

Troy, MI Couple Who Stole Secrets Could Be Sentenced to Several Years in jail

This is one of those stories that hasn’t made headlines in quite some time now, but the details will be fresh in the minds of most.

There's a Ton of "Secret" Technology That Makes the Volt Perform the Way it Does

There’s a Ton of “Secret” Technology That Makes the Volt Perform the Way it Does

A couple years back, General Motors discovered that a former employee and her husband were stealing trade secrets with hopes to sell the info to competitors in China.  The trade secrets related to GM’s hybrid vehicle technology and loosely to the Chevy Volt.  Du gained access to GM’s hybrid technology and began copying documents in late 2003.   She later copied thousands of documents in 2005, days after receiving a severance offer from the automaker.

Those trade secrets were later discovered on seven computers owned by ex-GM engineer Shanshan Du and her husband, Yu Qin, according to prosecutors.  It’s believed that none of the information ever found its way to China, but that doesn’t mean that GM is accepting of the wrongdoings committed.

Now, GM is seeking a stiff sentence for the two law-breakers who were convicted in court of stealing the automaker’s technology.

John Calabrese, GM vice-president for global vehicle engineering, stated:

“There is a clear and well-recognized need for the United States government, including its courts, to take aggressive steps to deter others from stealing the type of vital technology at issue in this matter.”

Du and Qin could face eight to 10 years in prison and Calabrese suggested that US District Judge Marianne Battani “impose the maximum allowable sentence,” but it seems unlikely that will happen.

Since the info never made its way to China, it’s likely Battani will go easy on the convicted felons.  GM never suffered an actual loss, argues the defendant’s attorney and, therefore, suggest a more appropriate penalty is probation and confinement.

In the words of the defendant’s lawyer:

The GM technology possessed by the defendants was never sold or offered for sale to any other entity. Therefore, no other entity ever made use of the technology to the detriment of GM”

But still, a theft occurred and GM argues that calls for a stiff punishment.

Whose side do you support?

UPDATE: Judge disagrees with GM.  Issues sentence of 1 year and 1 day to Shanshan Du.  Husband Yu Qin not sentenced yet.

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6 responses to "GM Seeks Stiff Sentence for Detroit-Area Couple That Stole Chevy Volt Trade Secrets to Sell to China (UPDATE)"

  1. Bill Howland says:

    How in the world would they know whether a transfer ever appeared in China? Do they think that China would Volunteer that info?

    1. David Murray says:

      Thats exactly what I was wondering. Sort of like many movies I’ve seen where somebody has a disk or a flash card or something and people are chasing them all over the world to retrieve that disk. Do they never take into account that data can be copied and it is impossible to tell if the original source has been copied or not?

  2. Steve says:

    What they stole is probably worth millions and millions of dollars in R+D. I hope the Chinese never got hold of it, but heft is theft. Is it any different than stealing a million dollars, and when you get caught say you don’t deserve to be punished because you never had time to spend any of the money ?

  3. sac lancel says:

    The headphones don’t flip flat and even Philips doesn’t make a travel pouch in the package

  4. mic theory says:

    Americans are giving China the key to become the worlds only superpower the greed of the oil companies and arms dealers coupled with the opposition to alternative energy industries is synonymous with a country preferring the horse and buggy over the automobile. We are falling behind the world technologically because we are listening to greedy self serving leadership that doesn’t care about the average american. The right has been trashing the volt since its inception while china seeks to steal its tech who’s the dummy in this?

  5. drucifer says:

    In some countries, the severance package would be the severance of a hand.