Defendant who conspired to steal aircraft secrets pleads guilty

SAVANNAH, GA:  A North Carolina man has admitted taking part in a conspiracy to steal design information from aircraft companies to speed up approval of competing airplane technology.

Craig German, 59, of Kernersville, N.C., entered a guilty plea to Conspiracy to Steal Trade Secrets in U.S. District Court in Savannah, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.

German faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release upon completion of his sentence.  There is no parole in the federal system.

According to court documents and testimony, German agreed with his co-conspirators to steal trade secrets from aircraft companies in order to assist a competitor company in developing their own anti-ice aircraft technology. Without authorization, German copied anti-ice trade secret documents onto a storage device from the aircraft company for which he worked, and then emailed those documents to his co-conspirators. 

“German and his co-conspirators stole the secrets of U.S. companies rather than do the hard work necessary to succeed,” said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. “Our office takes the theft of intellectual property very seriously, and we will remain on the front lines of defending U.S. companies against this emerging economic threat.”

“Companies spend millions of dollars to develop trade secrets to compete in a free market system,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “We cannot allow anyone to circumvent the system by using illegal and deceptive practices to steal protected information. The FBI is committed to identifying and prosecuting anyone who does.”

The case is being investigated by the FBI, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer G. Solari and Steven H. Lee.