WORCESTER -- A federal judge in Worcester is pondering whether to grant bail to a 45-year-old Westborough man who, in a highly unusual case, is accused of economic espionage for allegedly sending trade secrets about insecticides to China.
Kexue Huang faces a dozen counts of economic espionage to benefit a foreign government or instrumentality, as well as five counts of interstate or foreign transport of stolen property.
Assistant US Attorney Scott Garland said only six or seven people had ever been charged with the crime. He said the value of the information that Huang allegedly passed on exceeded $100 million.
The allegations mainly concern the period from January 2003 to February 2008, when Huang worked at Dow Chemical in Indiana. Huang allegedly conveyed the information to Hunan Normal University, prosecutors said today at a bail hearing in federal court in Worcester.
Further details about the case were unavailable. The indictment against Huang, handed up by a grand jury in Indiana, remains sealed.
Huang's attorney said that the allegations mainly stemmed from Huang's publication of an article about his work in a scholarly journal in China.
"I do think it's unusual, judge, that you could allege a larceny scheme" where someone has published an article in a scholarly journal, attorney James P. Duggan told US Magistrate Judge Timothy Hillman.
Huang, who now works at a Marlborough biofuels company, has been in custody since his arrest by FBI agents Tuesday.
Prosecutors argued at today's hearing that Huang should not be released on bail because of the risk he would flee to Canada or to China. Huang is a Canadian citizen who is a legal permanent resident of the United States. He has extended family in China.
Duggan said his client had a wife and two children in Marlborough and they would all be willing to give up their passports as well as use the $275,000 to $300,000 equity in their home to secure his bail.
"It's hard to picture the whole family moving without passports to Canada or any other foreign country," he said. "It's unlikely they would be on the lam for more than 10 minutes. ... This is a responsible person, a well-educated person [with] a good job, assets."
Hillman took Huang's request for bail under advisement, pending receipt of a brief from the prosecutors.
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