A federal jury on Thursday, March 31, convicted a New York engineer for conspiring to engage in economic espionage for China.

According to a U.S. Department of Justice announcement, Xiaoqing Zheng, 59, from New York collaborated with others to extract trade secrets from his technology firm, GE Power & Water in Schenectady.

Zheng spends a decade working for GE from 2008 as an engineer specializing in sealing technology.

It was proven that he abused his status at GE to leak its steam and gas turbine technology to foreign entities. He was accused of “knowing or intending to benefit” the Chinese regime and rival firms from China among others.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division explained in the press release, “Zheng conspired to steal trade secrets from his employer, GE, and transfer this information to his business partner in China, so they could enrich both themselves and companies receiving support from the PRC government.”

Olsen added, “This is the kind of exploitation of our economy and open society that the Department will continue to counter relentlessly.”

Special Agent in Charge Janeen DiGuiseppi of the FBI’s Albany Field Office said, “This conviction should send a strong message that the FBI will continue to vigorously investigate economic espionage cases, and pursue prosecution in partnership with the United States Attorney’s Office, to ensure the protection of American technology and American jobs.”

After a four-week trial, the jury convicted Zheng of conspiracy to commit economic espionage. He was, however, acquitted of two counts of economic espionage and two counts of stealing trade secrets.

Sentencing for Zheng is set to be handed down on August 2. He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $5 million, and a maximum of three years of supervised release.

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