Former Eli Lilly employees granted home detention in ‘trade secrets’ case

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INDIANAPOLIS (April 24, 2014) – Two former Eli Lilly employees accused of stealing trade secrets will be allowed on home detention after federal prosecutors amended the charges against them.

A judge said Guoqing Cao and Shuyu Li don’t pose a flight risk and ordered their release from “lockdown status” at a Volunteers of America facility where they’ve been held since their arrest. They were accused of sharing Eli Lilly information with a Chinese pharmaceutical company.

In October 2013, U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett charged Cao and Li with multiple counts of theft of trade secrets and one count of conspiracy to commit trade secrets. Hogsett said both men posed a significant flight risk and needed to be detained at the VOA facility.

A judge agreed, and both men have remained at the VOA facility since then. The indictment followed a yearlong investigation by federal prosecutors.

Last month, the government filed a second indictment superseding the original. The charges against the men were changed to wire fraud, aiding and abetting, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The indictment no longer mentioned “trade secrets.”

The defendants asked for different conditions of release and suggested 24-hour GPS monitoring and/or home detention. The government objected to the idea, saying both men were flight risks.

In a Wednesday ruling on the defendants’ motion, a judge said both men have clearly planted roots in Indiana; they lease homes in the state, their immediate families live nearby and their children attend class at local school districts. The judge said the defendants have been compliant with the investigation and believes they will remain in Indiana and not attempt to leave the country.

By removing trade secrets from the charges, the court said the “teeth” had been taken out of the indictment. The men—both scientists at Eli Lilly—are now accused of disclosing “Lilly Property” without obtaining permission or authorization. While the harm to Lilly is the same, the judge said, there are significant differences between the new indictment and the previous allegations. The government used phrases like “theft of trade secrets,” “traitors” and “crown jewels” in its arguments that both men should be detained on lockdown until their trial.

“As the Defendants note, these arguments are no longer applicable as any reference to trade secret theft is absent from the second superseding indictment,” the brief said.

The men will remain on home detention before their trial, which has been pushed back from its original May 2014 date to give them more time to prepare for the case. They can leave only for specific reasons such as religious services, medical appointments, attorney visits and other activities related to the legal proceedings. Travel is restricted to the Southern District of Indiana.

They’ll be monitored by GPS and will not be allowed to contact one another. They’re also prohibited from talking to other pharmaceutical companies.

Other restrictions include prohibition on alcohol and drug use. They’re not allowed to leave the country or obtain new passports.