Prosecutors won't give up trying to convict a pair of Silicon Valley engineers, even though a judge and jury junked most of their case and one of the defendants is broke.
The Justice Department has been vocal about blocking technology leaks to foreign governments, especially China. So three years ago it bumped up trade secret charges against Lan Lee and Yuefei Ge to include economic espionage. Prosecutors accused Ge and Lee of stealing trade secrets from their employer, NetLogic Microsystems, and trying to commercialize them with venture funding from the Chinese government.
But a jury acquitted the men on some of those counts. Then U.S. District Judge James Ware took the rare step of ordering acquittals for the remaining charges on which the jury hung, save for one trade secret count.
Still, the government announced at a Monday hearing that it would retry Ge and Lee on that sole count. The jury had divided 6-6 over that charge.
Lee's lawyer, Thomas Nolan of Nolan, Armstrong & Barton, recently made a motion to be paid by the court because his client is indigent. Ge has not yet done the same, though his attorney, Edward Swanson of Swanson & McNamara, described similar circumstances.
"I am very disappointed they decided to go ahead with the case," Swanson said. "My client has spent the last seven years dealing with this, and most of his savings, and I think it is time the government moved on."
Swanson said no one in the U.S. Attorney's Office, including line prosecutor Matthew Parrella, disclosed the government's rationale for continuing with the case. A spokesman for the office declined to comment.
The case began when Ge's wife anonymously tipped off NetLogic. At trial, the defense contended she made up the story because she didn't want him spending so much time working on his new business.