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A software engineer at a suburban Chicago locomotive manufacturer stole proprietary information from the company and took it to China, according to an indictment unsealed last week in federal court in Chicago.

Xudong Yao, also known as William Yao, 57, is facing nine counts of theft of trade secrets. Yao is currently at large and believed to be residing in China.

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Yao began working for the suburban Chicago manufacturer in August 2014, according to the indictment. Within two weeks, Yao downloaded more than 3,000 unique electronic files containing proprietary and trade secret information relating to the system that operates the manufacturer’s locomotives, the indictment states.

Over the next six months, Yao downloaded numerous other electronic files containing proprietary and trade secret information, including technical documents and software source code, the indictment said. During that time, Yao sought, negotiated, and accepted employment with a business in China that provided automotive telematics service systems, the indictment said.

Cyber Security

The suburban Chicago manufacturer terminated Yao in February 2015 for reasons unrelated to the incident, which at that time had not been discovered. Shortly thereafter, Yao made copies of the stolen trade secret information, the indictment said. He then traveled to China in July 2015 and began working for the Chinese company.

On Nov. 18, 2015, Yao traveled from China to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, according to the indictment. At the time, he had in his possession the stolen trade secret information, including nine complete copies of the suburban Chicago company’s control system source code and the systems specifications that explained how the code worked, the indictment said. Yao returned to China at some point thereafter.

The indictment was returned in December 2017 and ordered unsealed last week.

If found guility, theft of trade secrets is punishable by a maximum sentence of ten years in prison.

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