A Dublin, Ohio hospital researcher was sentenced to 33 months in prison after being convicted of “conspiring to steal exosome-related trade secrets concerning the research, identification and treatment of a range of pediatric medical conditions.”
Yu Zhou pleaded guilty last year to stealing scientific trade secrets at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Research Institute, according to the DOJ press release.
Zhou stole these secrets for personal financial gain, the DOJ said.
“Yu Zhou sought to exploit U.S. taxpayer dollars intended to fund critical, life-saving research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital through the whole-sale theft of their trade secrets,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “Zhou’s greed was encouraged and enabled by a series of Chinese Government programs which incentivize thievery in an attempt to supplement China’s own research and development goals on the back of American ingenuity and investment. This successful prosecution should serve as a warning to anyone who seeks to profit from pilfering hard-earned U.S. trade secrets.”
Acting U.S. Attorney Vipal J. Patel for the Southern District of Ohio said Zhou “willingly” took part in the “Chinese Government’s long-term efforts to steal American intellectual property.”
“Zhou and his wife executed a scheme over the course of several years to set up businesses in China, steal American research, and profit from doing so. The couple deserves the time it received in federal prison,” Patel said.
Li Chen, Zhou’s wife, also participated in stealing scientific trade secrets from the children’s hospital. Both Zhou and Chen worked as researchers there for 10 years each. Zhou worked there from 2007 to 2017 and Chen researched there from 2008 to 2018, the press release says.
Zhou’s sentence of 33 months is three months longer than his wife’s sentence of 30 months. Chen was sentenced in February.
The information Zhou and Chen stole pertained to exosomes which is a vital role in research, identification and medical treatment, according to the press release.
The Dublin couple took these secrets, started a Chinese company, and tried to sell their kits.
As part of their conviction, the couple will have to pay $2.6 million in restitution.
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