A federal magistrate judge has released on bond the accused trade-secrets larcenist and former W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. employee Kwang Seoung Jeon, who was arrested as he allegedly tried to flee the United States for his home country of South Korea.
Jeon had notified the company—maker of Gore-Tex fabrics—that he was leaving the company to return to South Korea as a consultant after being told he would not receive a raise. In a fact pattern becoming all too familiar in trade secrets theft prosecutions, Jeon then allegedly printed book-size documents from his work computer relating to the company’s camouflage technology, in violation of the Economic Espionage Act. According to the criminal complaint, Jeon also attached three USB devices and two external hard drives to his work computer before leaving Gore, thereby accessing more than 800 company documents.
He was arrested April 2 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where he was attempting to board a plane to his home country.
Adding to the déjà-vu character of the case: a Gore employee reviewed the documents and determined that they contained material considered trade secrets by Gore. It would seem at least possible that the probable cause standard required for the criminal complaint and ensuing arrest was provided by Gore’s assessment of the proprietary nature of the allegedly purloined documents. The move demonstrates the increasing cooperation between industry and the federal government in combating trade secrets theft.
White-collar attorneys who have defended trade secrets prosecutions will note perhaps the most surprising aspect of the story: U.S. Magistrate Judge Sherry Fallon released Jeon to home confinement April 16 on just a $10,000 secured and a $35,000 unsecured bond. The disparity in conditions of release assigned to defendants arrested for trade secrets theft can be startling. One need look no further than the example of ex-Two Sigma Investments, LLC analyst Kang Gao, who sat in custody in New York State unable to make the $1,000,000 bail assigned by the state supreme court.
By comparison, the conditions of Jeon’s release seem startlingly lenient for such a big-ticket crime. White collar counsel, take note!