Former chemist at Wacker sentenced for sharing trade secrets with foreign firm
A chemist formerly employed by Wacker Chemical Corporation, which operates a U.S. facility in Raisin Township, was recently sentenced to two years in prison for stealing trade secrets from the company. Michael Agodoa, 62, of Midland, was handed a sentence on Thursday, Jan. 16, of 24 months in federal prison after having pleaded guilty to stealing trade secrets and disclosing them to KCC Silicones, a Korean-based chemical company.
A joint statement issued by U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, and Paul Abbate, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Agadoa worked for Wacker as an engineer for a number of years and left the company’s employment in 1997.
Agadoa admitted that he took numerous formulas used in the production of silicone-based and rubber products sold by Wacker when he left. In early 2010, as he was negotiating employment with KCC, Agadoa provided copies of the Wacker formulas to KCC. Later, from March of 2010 to April of 2012, while the chemist was employed by KCC, he used stolen Wacker formulas to assist KCC in the development of silicone-based products.
“This defendant has admitted to stealing formulas from a chemical company, which invested time, effort and money to develop these trade secrets,” McQuade said. “Stealing trade secrets harms Michigan businesses and costs jobs. We are committed to protecting Michigan’s technology, and we hope that this prosecution will send a message that stealing propriety information from an employer or competitor is a serious crime.”
A spokesman for Wacker Chemical Corporation in Raisin Township confirmed that Agadoa had been employed there for a few years and issued the following statement on behalf of the company.
“WACKER is a global chemical company which highly values its intellectual property and technical competencies. We will take the appropriate and necessary steps to vigorously defend it from being compromised, either through internal or external sources, and will do so in complete accordance with WACKER corporate policy within the letter and spirit of the law. We are pleased there has been a just and lawful conclusion to this case.”
In the statement from the U.S. Attorney and FBI, Agent Abbate further stated: “Theft of trade secrets and commercial innovations is a serious criminal offense, whether prompted by personal greed or a desire to exploit shortcuts to economic and technological pre-eminence.” He added that such criminal acts negatively impact U.S. industry and the hard-working people and businesses of Michigan.
“The FBI will continue to work with our partners to bring these criminals to justice and send a message that they will be held accountable for this type of illegal conduct,” Abbate said.