A New York engineer is heading to federal prison for conspiring to steal General Electric’s trade secrets to benefit the Chinese government.
Schenectady County resident Xiaoqing Zheng, age 59, of Niskayuna, was sentenced to two years behind bars in federal court in Albany on Tuesday, Jan. 3.
It followed his March 2022 conviction on a charge of conspiracy to commit economic espionage. After a four-week trial, the jury either acquitted Zheng, or could not reach a unanimous verdict, on 11 other charges.
According to the US Attorney’s Office in the Northern District, Zheng worked at GE Power in Schenectady from 2008 to 2018 as an engineer specializing in turbine sealing technology.
Prosecutors alleged that he and others in China conspired to steal the company’s trade secrets surrounding its ground-based and aviation-based turbine technologies, “knowing or intending to benefit the People’s Republic of China and one or more foreign instrumentalities.”
Among them were China-based companies and universities that research, develop, and manufacture parts for turbines, prosecutors said.
“This is a case of textbook economic espionage,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen said in a statement.
“Zheng exploited his position of trust, betrayed his employer, and conspired with the government of China to steal innovative American technology.
"The Justice Department will hold accountable those who threaten our national security by conniving to steal valuable trade secrets on behalf of a foreign power.”
The case was investigated by the FBI and the Buffalo Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
In addition to his prison time, a judge ordered Zheng to pay a $7,500 fine and serve one year of post-release supervision.
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