A former Motorola employee, charged with the theft of trade secrets from the company, was sentenced by a federal court in Illinois yesterday to four years in federal prison, the US Department of Justice said.
Jin Hanjuan, 41, a nine-year Motorola software engineer, conducted a "purposeful raid to steal technology," US District Judge Ruben Castillo said while imposing the sentence.
The judge did not however find her guilty of three counts of economic espionage for the benefit of China and its military, although he found by a preponderance of the evidence, that Jin "was willing to betray her naturalised country," according to the department. Jin had earlier been convicted by the court of three counts of theft of trade secrets.
Jin, who is a naturalised US citizen born in China, was stopped from traveling on a one-way ticket to China on February 28, 2007 at O'Hare International Airport by US customs officials who are said to have seized from her possession more than 1,000 electronic and paper documents from Motorola.
The trade secrets relate to the proprietary iDEN (Integrated Digital Enhanced Network) technology of Motorola which was subsequently renamed as Motorola Solutions, after its separation from Motorola Mobility in 2011. Jin was said to be secretly working for Sun Kaisens, a Chinese company that developed telecommunications technology for the Chinese military, at the time of the customs seizure of the documents.
Jin pursued employment with Sun Kaisens in 2006 while on sick leave from Motorola, and worked for the company on projects for the military between November 2006 and February 2007, according to the Justice Department.
On February 26, 2007, Jin returned to Motorola, purportedly to resume full-time work, but was not given any assignments. On that day and the day after she accessed documents from Motorola's internal network and was also seen removing from the premises physical documents and other material, according to the Department of Justice. By February 27 she had also sent an email to Motorola appearing to volunteer for a layoff.
The federal authorities said they also recovered from Jin multiple classified Chinese military documents, written in Chinese and in many cases marked "secret" by the Chinese military that described certain telecommunication projects for the Chinese military.
In a submission to the court, Jin's lawyers from the Federal Public Defender Program had asked for a non-custodial sentence, citing evidence admitted at trial and the court's findings that Jin intended to prepare herself for her next job with the material seized from her, and did not plan to share it with Sun Kaisens.
The government had in a filing on Monday asked for a sentence for Jin of between 70 to 96 months of imprisonment.
Jin was also fined $20,000 and ordered to remain in home confinement with electronic monitoring until starting her sentence on October 25.