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Former employee accused of selling trade secrets

A federal grand jury has filed a seven-count indictment charging Yi Liu, 40, of Lexington, S.C., with stealing trade secrets from Sprung-brett RDI, a technology firm in the University of Buffalo’s Technology Incubator in Amherst.

Liu, who has a doctorate in mechanical engineering, was also charged with unlawfully accessing a Sprung-brett computer, the interstate transportation of the stolen trade secrets and wire fraud for trying to get money from Sprung-brett.

Liu faces up to 60 years in prison, a $3.5 million fine or both.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony M. Bruce, Liu left Sprung-brett’s employ in February 2011. He is accused of keeping the laptop the company supplied and, for the next seven months, downloading trade secrets about a technology the company was developing for possible use in nuclear submarines and on Air Force fighters. The indictment further states that the defendant later disclosed those trade secrets.