Engineers convicted in Goodyear corporate espionage case
A US federal judge has sentenced two former Wyko engineers to four years probation and 150 hours of community service after they were convicted of stealing trade secrets from Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. in a corporate espionage case that first surfaced in 2009.
According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, federal prosecutors had wanted US district court judge Thomas W. Phillips to give Clark Alan Roberts and Sean Edward Howley at least 10 months in prison, but their lack of previous convictions and “ample” family and community support reportedly won out.
A jury found Roberts and Howley each guilty in December on 10-counts alleging they conspired to steal and use trade secrets. Roberts and Howley, who were employees of Wyko Tire Technology Inc. at the time, had been accused of visiting Goodyear’s Topeka, Kansas plant in 2007 so Howley could use his camera phone to take pictures of OTR tyre production procedures.
During the trial Tom Frey, a consultant for Goodyear and a former Goodyear manager, had estimated it cost $520,000 to develop the design drawings for the equipment the defendants were convicted of photographing and that Goodyear made $17 million in 2007 from the sale of tyres that machine produces. However Judge Phillips rejected Frey as a witness and noted that he was not employed by Goodyear and had not produced documentation to verify these figures.
The prosecution alleged that Wyko had a contract with an unnamed Chinese tyre manufacturer to provide such a machine but struggled to produce one so the defendants decided to steal the Goodyear design.
In addition to the four years probation and 150 hours community service, the defendants were each given four months confinement to their homes except for employment and a few other exceptions and were given a $1,000 fine, which the court waived because of the defendants’ inability to pay.