Lexington Man and Semiconductor Company Indicted for Theft of Trade Secrets
BOSTON – A Chinese born naturalized U.S. citizen living in Lexington, and a company he and his wife established, were charged in federal court in Boston in connection with stealing proprietary information from his former employer, Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI), a semiconductor company headquartered in Norwood. Yu is also charged with allegedly selling and illegally exporting integrated circuits that incorporated ADI’s stolen trade secrets.
Haoyang Yu, a/k/a “Jack Yu,” a/k/a “Harry Yu,” a/k/a “Jack Tricon,” 40, of Lexington, was arrested and charged along with his company, Tricon MMIC LLC, in an indictment unsealed today. Yu was indicted on four counts of theft of trade secrets; four counts of copying, uploading, downloading, and attempted copying, uploading, and downloading of a trade secret; four counts of possession and attempted possession of a trade secret; and three counts of smuggling. Tricon MMIC LLC was also indicted on three counts of smuggling. Yu will appear this afternoon in federal court in Boston.
“Theft of trade secrets from American companies is a pervasive economic and national security threat, which makes Massachusetts, a worldwide leader in technological research and innovation, a target,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “Yu is charged with a massive theft of proprietary trade secret information from his former employer for the purpose of setting up his own company and marketing their products as his own. Today’s charge should make it clear that combatting the theft of trade secrets from American businesses is one of my office’s top priorities.”
“Today’s actions are the result of the seamless coordination and collaborative counter proliferation efforts by the Office of Export Enforcement, the Justice Department, Homeland Security Investigations, NCIS and the FBI,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge William Higgins of the Office of Export Enforcement. “The Boston Field Office, Office of Export Enforcement will continue to work with all its Law Enforcement partners to stem illicit trade that threatens U.S. national security and undermines U.S. foreign policy. We will continue to vigorously pursue violators wherever they may be.”
“Violations of U.S. export laws like the ones charged in this case are serious offenses that undermine national security through the illegal export of sensitive U.S. technology and compromise the economic viability of American companies,” said Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations, Boston. “Today’s enforcement actions could not have occurred without the coordinated efforts of a very dedicated team of law enforcement partners that included members of HSI’s Counter-Proliferation Investigations Center, the agency’s specialized unit dedicated to preventing the illegal export of U.S. technology and protecting American businesses by combatting transnational criminal networks and violators of our export laws.”
“As alleged, Mr. Yu stole trade secrets from his employer for his own financial gain,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division. “We are deeply concerned about American innovation ending up in the wrong hands, and the FBI is committed to investigating rogue actors and foreign nations who steal our trade secrets, technology, and proprietary information for military or economic gain. While we all welcome fair competition, we cannot and will not tolerate stealing and cheating. It’s illegal, unethical, and unfair, and this type of conduct hurts American businesses, jobs, and consumers, and in many instances, jeopardizes our national security.”
NCIS Northeast Field Office Special Agent in Charge Leo S. Lamont stated: “NCIS works closely with our partners in the FBI, HSI, and Department of Commerce to aggressively combat the theft of trade secrets and the illegal export of sensitive defense technologies. These crimes not only weaken our national security but also jeopardize the safety of our brave men and women in uniform.”
According to the charging document, Yu was born in Harbin, China, and first came to the United States in 2002 through the student visa program. He became a lawful permanent resident in June 2009, and a naturalized U.S. citizen in March 2017. In July 2014, Yu started working at ADI as a principal design engineer.
As alleged in the indictment, Yu worked for ADI designing and developing parts of monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs), which are used in radio, cellular, and satellite communications as well as defense and aerospace applications. As a result of his work, Yu had access to data and information relating to the present and future product designs, schematics, manufacturing files and testing procedures. It is alleged that, while working for ADI, Yu downloaded hundreds of highly confidential schematic design files and modeling files that belonged to ADI, and copied portions of those files into spreadsheets which he uploaded to his personal Google drive account. The files Yu allegedly stole from ADI were worth millions of dollars.
In March 2017, approximately five months before he resigned from ADI, Yu and his wife established Tricon MMIC LLC, which according to its website, “specializes in wide band MMIC amplifiers,” and serves customers in “defense and aerospace, test and instrumentation, [and] satellite communications.”
On July 31, 2017, Yu resigned from ADI and signed an agreement affirming that he had surrendered all proprietary information or data. Nevertheless, in December 2018, Yu allegedly had propriety ADI files in his possession. Furthermore, since creating Tricon in March 2017, Yu marketed and sold approximately 20 ADI designs as his own, and even used the same semiconductor fabrication plant as ADI. Yu used the Tricon website to target ADI customers, claiming that Tricon could better serve customers because ADI “has hit many customers by sudden announcements of obsolete parts.” For each purported obsolete part, Tricon listed a replacement part on its website. These replacement parts contained specifications identical to or substantially similar to ADI.
It is alleged that since leaving ADI, from August 2017 to June 2019, Yu has been working at a cleared defense contractor while simultaneously operating Tricon and selling parts that are identical to, or substantially similar, to ADI products and which incorporate ADI’s stolen trade secrets. Yu has also allegedly used Tricon to illegally export several parts to Spain by concealing both his name and the export control classification number of the parts being exported on the shipping documents.
ADI, the named victim of the Yu’s theft of trade secrets, has been cooperating with the government throughout this investigation.
The charge of stealing, copying, downloading, and possessing a trade secret provides for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of smuggling goods from the United States provides for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
U.S. Attorney Lelling; Acting DOC – Office of Export Enforcement SAC Higgins; HSI Boston SAC Fitzhugh; FBI Boston SAC Bonavolonta; and NCIS SAC Lamont made the announcement today. The following agencies also assisted in this investigation: Customs and Border Protection; Coast Guard Investigative Service; Defense Criminal Investigative Service; Massachusetts State Police; Lexington Police Department; and Hingham Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney B. Stephanie Siegmann, Chief of Lelling’s National Security Unit, and Assistant U.S. Attorney George Varghese, of Lelling’s National Security Unit, are prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.