A former General Motors Co (GM) engineer convicted of stealing thousands of pages of hybrid technology was sentenced on Wednesday to just a year and a day in prison, far below the punishment sought by the government in a case that involved her husband and an alleged scheme to take the trade secrets to China.
Du Shanshan (杜珊珊) right arm and right leg shook as she tearfully expressed remorse.
US District Judge Marianne Battani said economic espionage is a serious crime, but she also noted Du’s health problems and the seven years from FBI raid to trial and sentence.
“I don’t think the public needs to be protected from you, but it needs to be protected from others like you,” the judge told Du.
Federal guidelines called for a minimum sentence of six years and six months for Du and her husband, Qin Yu (秦裕), but those guidelines are not mandatory. Qin, also an engineer, was sentenced to three years in prison. They will remain free until late summer.
“This is all my fault and I want to take full responsibility. I’m sorry this all happened ... I’m ashamed,” Qin told the judge.
Du, 54, was convicted last year of conspiracy and possessing trade secrets without approval. Qin, 52, was found guilty of the same crimes, along with fraud and obstruction of justice.
The government accused Du of seeking a transfer within GM to get access to hybrid technology and said she began copying documents at the end of 2003. She copied thousands of records in 2005, five days after getting a severance offer from the automaker.
By that summer, Qin was telling people he had a deal to provide hybrid technology to a GM competitor in China and had set up his own company, Millennium Technology International, the government said.
However, the information did not make it overseas.
“Sorry. Again, I made wrong decisions. That caused me this suffering,” Du said in court.
Du’s health problems in the last few years have included cancer, shingles, depression and anxiety. She told a mental health expert that the FBI search at her suburban Detroit home in 2006 had rekindled awful memories of oppression by the Chinese government during her childhood.