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Chemist Sent To Prison For Selling Silicone Formulas

Trade Secrets: Former Wacker employee sentenced to two years in prison for stealing intellectual property

by Marc S. Reisch
January 31, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 5

A chemist who admitted he stole more than 100 confidential silicone formulas from Wacker Chemical and then sold many to a South Korean competitor is going to federal prison for two years.

The attorney for the 62-year-old chemist, Michael Agoda, argued before his Jan. 16 sentencing that Agoda should receive probation because he provided Wacker formulas to KCC Silicone “in the scientific spirit of sharing information.”

However, the complaint against Agoda, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, paints a different picture. According to the document, KCC paid Agoda $132,621 between March 2010 and January 2012. Agoda made 12 trips to South Korea paid for by KCC. Wacker figures it lost about $15.5 million because of Agoda’s actions.

Agoda worked at Wacker’s Adrian, Mich., facility for 20 years until 1997. He was employed by Laur Silicone, a formulator in Beaverton, Mich., when he started selling Wacker formulas to KCC, court documents say.

Agoda resigned from Laur in June 2011 to work full-time for KCC. Then, Laur’s information technology administrator reviewed Agoda’s e-mail account and discovered evidence that he had been selling Wacker trade secrets. The firm reported the activity to Wacker, which in turn informed the FBI.

Other chemists have also been caught stealing trade secrets. In 2011, Kexue Huang, a Dow AgroSciences scientist, pled guilty to stealing formulation data for the pesticide Spinosad. In 2010, DuPont scientist Hong Meng admitted to stealing technology for lengthening the life of organic light-emitting diodes.


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