Former Akron-based Bridgestone Americas researcher Xiaorong Wang is a free man.
All federal charges in the corporate espionage case against the Hudson resident have been dismissed.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge James S. Gwin signed paperwork filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Cleveland that dismissed the Cuyahoga County grand jury indictment against Wang.
The majority of charges had been dismissed by Gwin in late September, shortly after Wang’s trial started in Cleveland. Gwin ruled there was insufficient evidence for a conviction on eight charges Wang was facing regarding trade secrets.
Gwin also dismissed without prejudice four other charges that Wang intended to “injure the owner of the trade secret.” In addition, other related charges were dismissed prior to the trial starting.
The dismissal of all charges is in line with “what we believe to be the merits of the case,” said Paul Adamson, Wang’s lawyer.
Wang, a highly regarded and award-winning researcher at Bridgestone America’s Akron technical center and holder of numerous patents, never intended to steal company trade secrets or to capitalize on any trade secrets in his possession, Adamson said. Wang had been a researcher at the Akron center since 1995.
Wang was fired in 2010 over an issue involving a dispute with another employee, unrelated to the subsequent criminal charges. Wang’s indictment and arrest in March were based on actions he took at the time he was fired, including copying computer files and bringing them to his home.
A critical element missing in the government’s case against Wang was showing that the scientist intended to do something with and to benefit from the trade secrets found on those computer files, Adamson said. Wang, while embarrassed by his actions shortly after being fired, never intended to benefit from the information, he said.
The trade secrets found on the computer records were “among other files that were clearly his,” the lawyer said. All of the tire company’s trade information was patented and dated from 2002 to 2006, with nothing current, he said.
Always a scientist
The FBI had alleged Wang possessed unauthorized computerized copies of Bridgestone Americas trade secrets at his home and that emails showed he intended to move back to China to take a job at Suzhou University and start a polymer center. The FBI had said the trade secrets, which included polymer formulas, had a potential worth of millions of dollars.
Wang, a Chinese national turned U.S. citizen, was being courted by the Chinese university, Adamson said. But out of thousands of emails between Wang and the university, none showed that the researcher discussed Bridgestone Americas trade secrets, Adamson said.
Judge Gwin on Aug. 1 rejected a plea agreement worked out between Wang and the U.S. Attorney’s office, documents show. Adamson said the judge at the time rejected the agreement because while Wang admitted in the plea that he took computer records, he did not find proof Wang committed a crime.
The lawyer said Wang is not contemplating taking legal action.
Wang would like to return to science, Adamson said. With the dismissal of all charges, Wang now has a decent chance of going into academia, not industry, Adamson said.
“He’s a scientist, first, last and always,” he said. “He’s a delightful guy. I mean that from my heart. He’s a really good guy.”
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or email@example.com