Four Silicon Valley Execs Charged in Trade Secrets Theft Conspiracy

Four Silicon Valley executives have been charged in an alleged conspiracy to steal trade secrets from their employer, an unnamed semiconductor manufacturer.

The men -- Liang Chen of Saratoga, Donald Olgado of Palo Alto, Wei-Yung Hsu of San Jose and Robert Ewald of Aptos -- are accused by the U.S. Department of Justice of conspiring to use stolen information in a competing startup based in the U.S. and China.

The technology related to the high-volume manufacturing of semiconductor wafers to be used in lighting and electronic devices.

The company is not named in the indictment but public records show that the men were employed by semiconductor company Applied Materials Inc. of Santa Clara around 2012, the time of the alleged crime.

They allegedly downloaded information about the technology from their employer's confidential internal engineering database, including over 16,000 drawings. They also shared emails describing their plans to use the technology in a new company and tried to recruit investors to fund the company.

Each man has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets and eleven counts of possessing stolen trade secrets, according to the indictment, announced Wednesday by U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Federal Bureau of Investigation agent John F. Bennett. The charges were issued in an indictment handed down on Nov. 30, 2017, by a federal grand jury.

If convicted, they face up to 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for each charge.

Chen, 52, was a corporate vice president and general manager of the alternative energy products division; Olgado, 54, was a managing director of engineering within the product business group; Hsu, 57, was a vice president and general manager within the semiconductor LED division; and Ewald, 60, was a director of the energy and environmental systems within the alternative energy products division.

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