Federal court case exposes shocking electric-vehicle trade secrets conspiracy

June 17, 2024 Robert Abruzzese, Courthouse Editor
The Central Islip federal courthouse, where Klaus Pflugbeil pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal trade secrets from a leading U.S. electric vehicle company and sending them to an undercover agent. Photo by Americasroof/Wikimedia
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A resident of China, Klaus Pflugbeil, pleaded guilty on Thursday in federal court in Central Islip to conspiring to send trade secrets from a leading U.S. electric vehicle company to an undercover U.S. agent. 

Pflugbeil, 58, a former employee of a company later purchased by the victim firm, used stolen information to start his own business in China.

Pflugbeil and his co-defendant, Yilong Shao, who remains at large, owned a PRC-based business that marketed stolen technology. They aimed to replace the victim company’s products with their own. Pflugbeil sent detailed technical documents and drawings belonging to the U.S. firm to an undercover agent posing as a businessman from Long Island, New York.

“Today, the defendant is guilty of boldly sending valuable trade secrets, detailed documents and drawings that he stole from a U.S.-based leading manufacturer of battery-powered electric vehicles to an undercover law enforcement agent expertly posing as a businessman on Long Island,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace. “Today’s guilty plea demonstrates how this Office will swiftly bring to justice those who misappropriate intellectual property belonging to American companies to safeguard our economy and national security.”

Pflugbeil faces up to 10 years in prison when sentenced.

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