Former DuPont scientist gets 18 months in jail to close out $400 million corporate espionage case

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Gary Min, the former DuPont scientist who admitted stealing more than $400 million in trade secrets, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Min, 44, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson to jail time and ordered to pay a $30,000 fine and $14,500 in restitution to DuPont. He pleaded guilty to one count of theft of trade secrets last November.

Federal sentencing guidelines call for 24 to 30 months in jail.

Min, a native of China, was a 10-year veteran of DuPont when he began accessing more than 16,700 documents and more than 22,000 scientific abstracts between August and December 2005 with the intention of giving theme to Victrex, a DuPont rival.

Before leaving to work for Victrex, Min accessed sensitive scientific information from the server containing DuPont's electronic data library, and was the database's second most active user before his departure, the U.S. Department of Justice disclosed earlier this year.

DuPont, based in Wilmington, Del., notified the FBI and Department of Commerce about Min's activities after noticing his unusually high data-access rates.

DuPont last year filed a civil suit against Min in federal court in Ohio, demanding that he return any sensitive documents that may have been misappropriated.

In a statement released on Tuesday, DuPont acknowledged federal authorities, as well as Victrex, for cooperating with them.

“Although we are troubled that Min violated the trust placed in him, the criminal and civil actions brought against him demonstrate the actions that we will take to preserve the integrity of our proprietary science and technology for the benefit of DuPont shareholders and customers,” Stacey Mobley, DuPont senior vice president and general counsel, said Tuesday in a statement. “Judge Robinson underscored the importance of those actions by sentencing Min to federal prison and sent a clear signal to others who might consider committing similar crimes.”

IT security professionals called insider threats the top security issues facing enterprises in a May study released by Computer Economics. Insider misuse and unauthorized access by insiders were the No. 1 and No. 2 threats identified.

Ron Ben-Natan, chief technology officer at Guardium, a database security and monitoring vendor, said Wednesday in a news release that even long-time employees like Min must be monitored.

“Min's sentence reflects the value of corporate data. Stealing intellectual property is as serious as stealing goods or money, because this data provides organizations with a significant competitive advantage,” he said. “Min had 10 years of experience with DuPont before this breach occurred, showing that you never know when you can stop trusting an employee – so you must continuously monitor privileged insider activities.”

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