News

Palo Alto man charged in tech-theft conspiracy case

Millions in chip-equipment-manufacture technology was allegedly stolen from Applied Materials

Four Bay Area executives, including one from Palo Alto, have been charged in an alleged conspiracy to steal technology from a Bay Area semiconductor chip manufacturer, the U.S. Attorney's office said in a statement on Thursday.

Donald Olgado, 54, of Palo Alto; Liang Chen, 52, of Saratoga; Wei-Yung Hsu, 57, of San Jose and Robert Ewald, 60, of Aptos, allegedly conspired to steal trade secrets from Applied Materials Inc. in Santa Clara and used them in a competing company based in the U.S. and China. The alleged conspiracy took place in September 2012 while they were still employed at the company.

Olgado was a managing director of engineering within the product business group; Chen was a corporate vice president and general manager in the alternative energy products division; Hsu was a vice president and general manager within the semiconductor LED division and Ewald was a director of the energy and environmental systems within the alternative energy products division, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The four men allegedly downloaded information related to technology for high-volume manufacturing of semiconductor wafers used in lighting and electronic devices such as flat-screen televisions and smartphones. The men allegedly downloaded trade secrets related to wafer production, which involves automated, computer-controlled processes that take place in a "clean room."

The men allegedly downloaded the information from their employer's confidential internal engineering database, including more than 16,000 drawings. They allegedly shared plans in email regarding using the technology in a startup that would operate in both countries and attempted to recruit investors, according to the indictment. The indictment does not indicate the value of the technology, but the U.S. Attorney's Office said the company made millions of dollars in investment over years of research and testing.

Each man is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets and 11 counts of possessing stolen trade secrets. The defendants each face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the counts. They are scheduled for arraignment on Dec. 15 in federal court in San Jose. The charges are the result of an investigation by the FBI, according to the U.S. Attorney.

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Comments

2 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 7, 2017 at 11:29 am

Did these perps actually startup a company with the stolen technology? What is the name of the company?


Like this comment
Posted by Lisa Kriegerg
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 7, 2017 at 12:06 pm

No, startup not yet created - as article notes, charge is ‘conspiracy’ to steal’ I.e. property not stolen


4 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 7, 2017 at 1:09 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

Wow! Excellent article. The complete lack of morals of some employees is pretty shocking to me.


1 person likes this
Posted by Anke
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 7, 2017 at 3:31 pm

"The men allegedly downloaded the information from their employer's confidential internal engineering database, including more than 16,000 drawings. They allegedly shared plans in email regarding using the technology "

Lack of morals, and even bigger lack of common sense. They appear to have believed they could hide evidence of downloads and contents of emails, let alone keep the world from noticing that the manufacturing technology in any factory they might build had been stolen.


3 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 7, 2017 at 4:39 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Lisa " I.e. property not stolen"

In addition to conspiracy, they were also charged with possession of stolen trade secrets, so property had been stolen.

"Each man is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets and 11 counts of possessing stolen trade secrets. "


1 person likes this
Posted by Sheesh
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 7, 2017 at 5:43 pm

Overly inflated titles for such disteputable persons. Awful lack or morals, should never be in “management.”


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 7, 2017 at 6:36 pm

Please respect that these people have been charged,, but not convicted. I know one of the accused is widely respected by his peers and I look forward to hearing all of the facts.


1 person likes this
Posted by Eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 7, 2017 at 8:20 pm

[Post removed.]


29 people like this
Posted by Retired Techie
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 7, 2017 at 11:20 pm

My past experience as a research scientist who once [portion removed] interviewed, recommended, trusted, and hired a foreign national [portion removed] ...NEVER AGAIN.

Most have no intention of ever wanting to work for anyone else's company.
They want access to Western technologies (formulations, codes, and designs) so they can go do it on their own.

If you have worked and lived in Asia for any length of time, you will see that this is how things are.

This goes hand-in-hand with the mindset about other things such as cheating and software piracy.
In many non-western cultures, cheating is not dishonorable, but seen as a way to get ahead.
Copying software and media is not considered a crime in non-western countries - it simply means people like it, and want to use it and listen to it.
Sort of a compliment – which will cost you a few cents.

They believe our laws do not apply to them.

Let's talk taxes. It's basically an honor system when a person runs their own business.
Families of prosperous businesses never paid “normal” taxes in their homelands, so it is hard to convince them to be honorable and do this once they land here.

It is going to be a challenge to try and change the way of thinking of several billion people, if our CEO's, Universities, and government keep pushing non-western "globalization".

It's not globalization when western nations are not allowed to buy property, or have full control over their western corporations based in these non-western countries.



8 people like this
Posted by Anke
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 8, 2017 at 7:27 am

@Retired, you paint a very bleak picture. Unfortunately, this is not the first time I've heard these things, and I've seen some of them firsthand. (Not that our own country is exactly a pinnacle of virtue)

"Let's talk taxes. It's basically an honor system when a person runs their own business.
Families of prosperous businesses never paid “normal” taxes in their homelands, so it is hard to convince them to be honorable and do this once they land here."

It's equally hard to convince families of prosperous businesses in this country to be honorable and stop giving themselves tax breaks and loopholes.



"It's not globalization when western nations are not allowed to buy property, or have full control over their western corporations based in these non-western countries."

Especially when foreign nationals are very much allowed to buy property here.




5 people like this
Posted by commonsense
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 8, 2017 at 9:46 pm

for such a wealthy community PA is morally bankrupt and logically handicapped...


4 people like this
Posted by Skeptical
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 9, 2017 at 2:11 pm

I prefer that the evidence be presented to pass jusgement. I know one of these men who is a loving, concientious and caring man and cannot fathom how he could be involved in this. I truly hope that this is some very serious misunderstanding!


Like this comment
Posted by AP
a resident of Barron Park
14 hours ago

Are 2 of the 4 Chinese nationals?


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